Campaign to encourage parents to vaccinate children 5 to 11 years old

Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) has created a new series of television, radio, and social media ads featuring “Real Kids” — children aged 5 to 11 explaining why they got vaccinated against COVID 19 — as part of its statewide GoVAX campaign. Interviews with the children were conducted over the past few weeks at vaccination clinics in Baltimore City and Howard County and at a private pediatrics practice in Columbia.

“We know some parents are taking a ‘wait and see approach, even though they intend to get their children vaccinated eventually. We urge these parents not to wait and to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccines are safe and effective for children and continue to be our best defense against serious illness, hospitalization, and death,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader.

Children aged 5 to 11 were authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine on October 29, 2021. To date, 40 percent of Maryland children in this age group have received at least one dose of the two-dose regimen.?

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“It’s important to stress to all parents and guardians that vaccines help protect their children against serious illness,” said MDH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan. “We’ve seen an uptick in outbreaks in schools recently, and we know how important it is to keep children in school for in-person learning. The more children who get vaccinated, the better our chances of keeping kids in the classroom and allowing them to participate in the activities they enjoy.”

Children appearing in the “Real Kids” videos give various reasons for wanting to get vaccinated, ranging from returning to soccer practice and having sleepovers with friends to wanting to visit grandparents or taking a cruise with their parents. Nearly all understood the importance of being protected against the disease and described being vaccinated as “getting a little pinch.” 

Seven-year-old Roslyn from Baltimore said she wanted to get vaccinated to help protect her little sister, who is too young to get the vaccine herself. “It was easier than I thought it was going to be,” Roslyn said. “I was a little more nervous than scared.”

“Since I have the vaccine, I believe my parents will worry less,” said Chandler, 10, of Columbia, who also reported being happy and relieved to be vaccinated.

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The state’s multipronged GoVAX campaign first launched a year ago, encourages all Marylanders to protect themselves, their families, and their communities by getting vaccinated as soon as they become eligible. 

Since its debut, the campaign has featured TV, radio, outdoor and digital advertising, social media, grassroots outreach through door-to-door canvassing, virtual town halls, the use of sound trucks in targeted neighborhoods, and community-based messaging through doctors offices, barbershops, and salons.

The campaign has incorporated testimonials from dozens of “trusted leaders” throughout the state as GoVAX Ambassadors, including physicians, first responders, faith and community leaders, sports figures, research scientists, health officers, elected officials, and others.

“As a pediatrician and a parent, I think about all the routine vaccines we give our kids. We know shots are effective and they keep kids safe,” said Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, Health Commissioner for Baltimore City and GoVAX Ambassador. “Protecting this population is critical to keeping them in school. They’ve missed so much having to be virtual, so we want to make sure they are able to stay in school and learn safely.”

“We’ve been doing pretty well vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds so far, but we have to keep pushing. We also need to continue pushing vaccination with 12- to 17-year-olds,” said Dr. Monique Soileau-Burke, a pediatrician in Columbia, Vice President of the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and GoVAX Ambassador. “And for the college kids, well, I’m going to talk directly to them — Get your shot and do your part.”

To date, Maryland has administered almost 11 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 4.9 million Marylanders receiving at least one dose. 

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines and the GoVAX campaign, visit covidLINK.maryland.gov.

For the most recent Maryland COVID-19 vaccine data, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov

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