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Oregon kids under 5 aren't being vaccinated against COVID with any urgency

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Pfizer asks U.S. to allow COVID shots for kids ages 5 to 11

FILE - In this March 26, 2021, file photo a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site setup in Philadelphia. Religious objections, once used only sparingly around the country to get exempted from various required vaccines, are becoming a much more widely used loophole against the COVID-19 shot. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Health officials in Oregon are urging parents to consider giving their kids 6 months and older a COVID-19 vaccine as pediatric vaccination rates remain relatively low.

Virginia Garcia and the Latino Network partnered up on Friday to offer a free community vaccine event in Hillsboro at the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center on 8th Avenue. They administered vaccines and also gave out back-to-school supplies.

Roxanna Pascual, a regional operations manager, said they hope to vaccinate kids before the start of next school year. The event was open to anyone in the community, but organizers say kids 6 months old to 4 years old were a prioritized group.

According to data from the Oregon Health Authority, only about 5% of kids ages under the age of 5 have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Doctor Eva Galvez is a family medicine doctor at Virginia Garcia, and she said that a number of parents have been hesitant about giving the vaccine to their kids.

“Overall, I would say the vaccine uptake has been somewhat slow in children and I really do think that's because parents still have a lot of questions,” said Galvez.

Dr. Galvez said questions are understandable and need to be asked. But she and other health professionals say the vaccine is safe.

“My message has really been: ask those questions, get your answers and then make an informed decision,” Galvez said.

Parents like Blake Walla trust the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines. Walla brought his 3-year-old boy, Harlow, to get vaccinated at the event. He just got his first round of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine.

“Harlow is little overtired, and it still wasn't a big deal for him. I mean, you can tell, he's a toddler you know — it's hard to get him to sit still for 10 minutes,” said Walla.

The hope among organizers is that more parents like Walla decide to bring their children to vaccine clinics like the one in Hillsboro.

“I think that Harlow is going to go through rounds of many other proven and trusted vaccinations and I don't think this is any different. So it feels like a good choice for us to make,” Walla said.

The vaccine clinic on Friday ended at 6 p.m. Another free vaccine event is scheduled in the same location on Wednesday, July 20th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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