New Jersey parents, officials react to COVID-19 vaccine potential for 5-11 age group

Gov. Murphy says the news from Pfizer about younger children is promising, but said teen vaccination numbers are lagging.
TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Pfizer and Biontech announced Monday they will soon seek emergency use authorization for a lower dose version of their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, saying the vaccine is safe and effective for that age group.

Some New Jersey parents are anxious to vaccinate their children, including Kyra Butler of Trenton, N.J., who has a 9-year-old son.

"I feel like it would be a great thing to get. I got my shot, my 13-year-old got his shot, I kind of feel like it would be safe because we all need to get this done and over with," said Butler.

One mom of a 7-year-old said she is hesitant, to a point.

"I do have some reservations, but if they're going to keep her out of school because she doesn't have the vaccine, she would get it," said Diana Pippa of Hamilton, N.J.

Gov. Phil Murphy says the news from Pfizer about younger children is promising, but pointed out a lower teenage vaccination rate than officials would like - a group that is eligible for vaccination now.

"How much safer will we be if 5 to 11-year-olds (are vaccinated)? I would think it's a big step. I mean we're still pounding away on getting the 12 to 17-year-olds at a higher hit rate. They continue to lag," said Murphy during Monday's COVID-19 briefing in Trenton, N.J.

State health officials say 59% of 12 to 17 year-olds in New Jersey have received at least one dose.

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Data shows the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11, the companies announced Monday morning.



In Mercer County, Robbinsville Township's community festival was canceled last weekend due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the township, according to the mayor.

Robbinsville High School is closed due to an outbreak and students are learning virtually this week while the school is deep cleaned. In a statement, the superintendent acknowledged that many parents were upset by this decision to go remote for a week so soon.

"We started this school year focused on mental health and committed to provide resources for all of our students who need help. We understand the impact that COVID has had on families and students, but it was determined that closing our high school for five days while we conduct a deep clean and work with officials on contact tracing was in the best interest of our students, staff and our entire community," said Supt. Brian Betze.

Parent Andrea Maciolek, whose son is a sophomore at Robbinsville, thinks the school should stay remote longer than a week.

"I think they should have at least two weeks in case someone else is infected," said Maciolek, who is in favor of offering students an entirely virtual option this year, something the state will not allow.

Also Monday, Gov. Murphy announced an executive order requiring all child care employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 or submit to weekly testing. It also requires staff and children 2 and older to wear masks, effective Sept. 24.
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