One of the latest groups eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine is children, but the vaccination rate among individuals in that age group is lagging especially in Erie County.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein used a Wednesday press conference covered by NEWS 4 (WIVB-TV) to once again stress the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine.

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Burnstein stressed that the vaccine protects against developing moderate to severe disease, hospitalizations, and death from all of the COVID variants identified in Western New York.

Anyone who has symptoms or has recently traveled to an area with high COVID rates should get tested and reminded people that even if fully vaccinated, you could spread the virus.

According to Burstein, 61% of Erie County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 57% received both doses.

With school starting in a month the health commissioner is especially concerned about the low vaccination rate among 12 to 15-year-olds.

Dr. Burstein says only 44.8% of 12-15-year-olds are vaccinated compared to 51.6% of 15-17-year-olds and 72.1% of those 18 and up.

“If you want to do something healthy at the fair and you’re not vaccinated, come see us at the mobile vaccination clinic and get vaccinated,” Dr. Burstein said.

Burnstein noted that the county has seen more transmission of the virus in summer school and camps in July than it did during the school year.

Burstein says the county is anticipating additional K-12 school guidance from the NYSDOH.

The NYSED has advised schools to look at CDC guidance for masking and distancing.

Experts at Johns Hopkins, say the benefits of being vaccinated for COVID-19 outweigh any potential risks. COVID-19 in children is oftentimes milder than in adults, but some kids can get very sick and have complications or long-lasting symptoms.

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