NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - As shots of the Pfizer vaccine begin to be administered to children ages 12 and older at medical facilities, stores and schools, Miami-Dade County Public Schools will meet with medical experts to discuss their mask policy going forward.
With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing people who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks outside or in most indoor settings, there could soon be some major changes in the classroom.
M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava talked about their next steps in the fight against the pandemic during a press conference, Thursday afternoon.
“We’re going to convene and have a conversation with our medical advisor, Dr. [Peter] Paige, who also happens to be the mayor’s medical advisor,” said Carvalho. “In addition to that, we’re going to convene very quickly our Public Health and Medical Experts Task Force that is composed of some of the most brilliant minds out of [Florida International University], University of Miami and beyond, and pose the question to them.”
Carvalho said schools could see changes as early as summer school.
“The protocols may be different, but we find it important to first consult with our medical experts,” he said. “We hope to have a decision regarding the use of masks in our facilities very soon.”
Carvalho’s comments come one day after the CDC approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 through 15.
Though eligibility has expanded for receiving the vaccine, it remains unclear how many people will actually get it.
“We fully understand that we cannot get back to normal, and children cannot get back to normal until we take the shot,” said Levine Cava.
Miami’s Holtz Children’s Hospital has been added to the growing number of vaccination sites that are offering vaccine doses to a younger age group.
Some schools across Miami-Dade County transformed into vaccination sites.
Parents like Erica Revoucas wasted no time in getting their children immunized.
“To be able to get them back to their lives is nice,” said Revoucas. “We’ve been waiting, so it’s a good day.”
At North Miami Senior High, some parents were glad to hear that younger children can receive the vaccine.
“I really wanna have my daughter protected against COVID,” said parent Lida Maysonet. “I got vaccinated, so I want nothing but the best for my daughter.”
Students said they’re excited about what this means moving forward.
“I really want to get it, so I can start talking to people and seeing my friends more,” said a student.
“It means that I can do more stuff than I was able to to before I had the vaccine,” said student Lauren Kirby Navarro.
Others said that while they welcome the immunity, the needle itself is a different story.
“I’m fine with it, but I’m not enthusiastic about being stabbed,” said Olivia Revoucas.
The CDC soon approved the use of the vaccine after the Federal Vaccine Advisory Committee approved it for children 12 years and older.
“This is one more giant step in our fight against the pandemic,” said President Joe Biden. “I sincerely think the scientists, researchers and clinical trial participants deserve our thanks. They’ve all made this possible.”
Close to 2,200 children participated in the Pfizer trials. The results showed it was 100% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations.
“We’re now given the ability to vaccinate this next set in the population,” said Mike Jachles with the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
With help from parents, children in the new eligible age group can get the two-dose vaccine at CVS and select Walgreens pharmacies.
“I personally haven’t gotten COVID, and I really wanted to make sure that I never get it,” said Aleigh, who received the vaccine.
Parents or legal guardians with the paperwork to prove it can also bring their children to receive their shot at Hard Rock Stadium.
“The staff on site here at the Hard Rock has received extensive treatment in the pediatric population and vaccinating them,” said Jachles.
However, some parents are still hesitant about this particular vaccine.
“We don’t know what’s going on,” said parent Naomi Giemia. “Somebody said they not gonna take it, and I don’t know why they not gonna take it.”
“My advice is speak to your child’s clinician,” said Pediatric Associates Dr. Mona Amin. “Make sure you’re getting your information from the right places.”
Amin said the hope is this is one less virus that people have to worry about in schools.
“The vaccine is part of the puzzle to get back to normalcy,” she said. “Social distancing was part of it, masking was part of it, but we’re going to see life return back to normal the more we can get people vaccinated.”
Carvalho said more than 1,600 people were vaccinated throughout county schools on Thursday alone.
Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
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