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Families getting COVID-19 shots before new school year as cases rise in Virginia

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Posted at 9:47 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 23:20:55-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A lot of families are working through their back-to-school checklist.

For many, this includes making sure COVID-19 vaccinations are up to date. This comes as COVID-19 case numbers climb throughout Hampton Roads.

Below are the numbers for new COVID-19 cases in each of the Seven Cities recorded over the past 13 weeks:

Chesapeake

5,559 new cases reported

Hampton

4,133 new cases reported

Newport News

5,111 new cases reported

Norfolk

4,726 new cases reported

Portsmouth

2,074 new cases reported

Suffolk

2,251 new cases reported

Virginia Beach

10,710 new cases reported

Meanwhile, there's a push by health officials in Virginia for kids to get vaccinated before heading back to school.

Wednesday, many people as young as 8 years old came to New Light Baptist Church in Virginia Beach to get their COVID-19 vaccine. Church staff told News 3, that since June 2021, the church’s clinic has administered 1,000 vaccines.

One of the shots administered Wednesday was the third shot for a rising 6th grader in Virginia Beach before the start of the new school year.

“[It was] pretty easy. [It] didn’t hurt, nothing like that,” the boy told News 3. ”I feel like I should get it to protect myself. That way, I don’t get sick.”

“We got the highlighters. We got the notebook paper, and we made the appointment to get our shots re-upped,” the boy’s mother added. “I know that my child was not going to go into a school where masks were optional unless he was as vaccinated as I could make him.”

Wednesday's clinic came as Virginia's statewide 7-day average of new daily cases reported sat at more than 2,900.

“This fight is not over. We still have COVID out there,” Dr. Brooke Rossheim, Public Health Physician Specialist for the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of Epidemiology said.

Dr. Rossheim told News 3 that the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and push for vaccinations is linked to the BA.4 and BA.5 variants being predominant and contagious.

“These are infecting people who may not be vaccinated,” he said. “BA.4 and BA.5 have shown that they can kind of get around the vaccine a little bit. That’s another reason why we’re seeing some increase in cases.”

VDH is promoting child vaccinations around the commonwealth with every child six months and older eligible for a shot.

Rossheim said it's important for kids to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines to protect themselves and others before heading back to the classroom.

“We’ve got a lot of people, especially in an indoor setting like a school, that’s where we see transmission of respiratory viruses,” Rossheim said. “Getting booster doses gives you added protection against severe outcomes. We want people to get all the protection that they can.”

According to VDH officials, there are no plans to mandate that K-12 school children in Virginia get a COVID-19 vaccine at this time. The General Assembly would have to approve that requirement through Virginia’s immunization code.