Parents, health experts hope for vaccine soon for kids 5-11 as schools let mask mandates expire

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA)- Northwest Arkansas schools are doing away with mask mandates inside the classroom, meanwhile the U.S is waiting for FDA authorization for vaccines for kids 5-11.

Jacqueline Presley is a mom of two students in the Springdale School District, which recently let its mask mandate expire.

She said she specifically kept her son home this year because she expected the district to end its mask mandate early on and he is not old enough for a vaccine yet.

“I’m not really willing to take the risk,” Presley said. “I guess either side is a risk, like any vaccine is at least a little bit of a risk. So, I guess you have to decide, which one do you trust more?”

For Presley, it is the vaccine.

“Unfortunately, vaccinations have become a political thing, even a religious thing in some cases,” she said. “I don’t view it, personally, as any different than any of the other vaccines we have.”

It is a type of thinking encouraged by state epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha. She said she is hopeful the vaccine will be FDA authorized for kids 5-11 soon.

“We are hoping that these kids can be protected and that it will lessen the spread in the school setting and also in the after school setting,” she said.

Dr. Dillaha said she is disappointed to see schools doing away with the mask mandates.

“The masks work really well to lessen the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Dillaha said. “They’re safe and kids can wear them-they’ve demonstrated that already during the pandemic.”

But, she is hopeful many parents will opt to get their kids vaccinated as another form of defense.

“To me this is just… we have the privilege of getting this vaccine,” Presley said. “So, we definitely will take what’s available to us.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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