BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Governor Kathy Hochul is calling on New Yorkers to get their children vaccinated before returning to school after winter break.
"Vaccination rates in 5–11-year-olds remain disappointingly low,” NYS acting health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said.
"This is the time,” Gov. Hochul said. “You have the kids home from school, there's plenty of vaccination opportunities."
Statewide, pediatric hospital admissions have increased by more than 100 since December 5. Oishei Children's Hospital said it currently (as of Dec. 27) has eight COVID-19 patients as of Monday and that number has remained steady, with no spikes. But, with children returning to school soon doctors said case rates could increase.
"They're all going to be coming together into school,” Doctor Jonathan Daniels aid. “And that's going to be a major concern for BPS as well as all the schools in the country."
Statewide, just under 17 percent of children ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated, Dr. Daniels said getting those numbers up could curb some concern.
"If the vaccination rates were increased, it would be less of a concern, but still a concern, nonetheless," Dr. Daniels said.
"If you have a five-year-old who's interacting with your three-year-old, that five-year-old should be vaccinated in order to protect the younger members of your family,” Gov. Hochul said.
Governor Hochul and Dr. Daniels agree that keeping children in school is the goal. Governor Hochul said the decision won't be made based off case numbers alone.
"It's going to be a combination of events, looking at hospitalizations, spread,” Governor Hochul said.
"Children do better when they have a routine and schedule,” Dr. Daniels said. “We do know children will perform better when they're in school."
And to help keep children in the classroom, New York is ramping up testing. This week, millions of test kits will be delivered to schools statewide.
"We will be prioritizing delivery based on case rate by district,” acting commissioner for NYS Homeland Security and Emergency Services Jackie Bray said.