As restrictions drop, parents wonder: When can toddlers get vaccine against COVID-19

Lori Handy with CHOP says there is a lot of time and rigor that goes into a full vaccine trial.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As masks are coming off across the country, little ones under five who can't be vaccinated still have to mask up in some places.

The lack of a vaccine to protect the youngest population continues to cause concern.

"I still like to wear a mask because I work around a lot of children. I would hate to accidentally pass that along," said Billy Sander, co-owner of Sand Castle Fun Company.

Just this week, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health told parents it's finally safe to drop mandatory indoor masking because the coronavirus is on the decline.

But kids in pre-K and head start programs still have to keep their masks on. This decision comes as many parents wait for a vaccine for children under five years old.

Lori Handy with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia told Action News there is a lot of time and rigor that goes into a full vaccine trial.

For eligible children, the newest numbers for elementary school students show there is still a long way to go.

Around 34% of children ages 5-11 have received at least one dose of the vaccine both nationally and in Philadelphia.

That's compared to 26% fully vaccinated nationally and in Philadelphia, according to the CDC.

Handy says despite not all kids being vaccinated, now is the time for parents to let their toddlers out of the house.

"We have a couple of months 'I hope' of having a really safe time where our kids can get back to some of those things that are part of a normal childhood to help them develop the way they need to," said Handy.

A grandparent in the park told Action News she's being careful around her grandchildren.

"We have two young ones at my son's house that cannot be vaccinated, and we try to be very careful where we go. We wear our masks," said grandmother Susan from Rittenhouse.

In Fairmount, Action News caught up with a mother who says she's going about her daily life despite seeing more people without a mask on.

"I think small ones can better deal with this virus than adults, and she's fine," said Elisa Zoells from Fairmount.

The Philadelphia Department of Health still recommends all eligible children get vaccinated.

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