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North Dakota turns vaccination campaign toward children

FARGO (AP) — The North Dakota Health Department on Friday continued its campaign to promote the safety and necessity of COVID-19 vaccinations, this time focusing on getting shots for children before school resumes this fall.

North Dakota has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with just over 40% of the population completing their required doses, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Six other states had worse records as of Thursday.

The state health department’s website shows that 19.7% of adolescents in the 12-18 age group are considered fully vaccinated.

Two Fargo doctors from Sanford Health speaking at a virtual town hall emphasized the historical success of vaccines and encouraged parents to turn to their pediatricians or health care providers with any questions. They referred to one website erroneously stating that thousands of people have died from the vaccine and advised against getting information online or from politicians.

“You could give a whole a lecture on this,” Dr. Rebecca Bakke said of the misinformation. “You should listen to physicians about health issues more than you should listen to politicians.”

Dr. Tracie Newman said the vaccine is not only the most effective way to keep a child from getting the virus, but also will reduce the likelihood that the child will transmit the virus to “people in their inner circle,” such as grandparents, friends, classmates, teachers, coaches and other adults in their life.

“The vaccines continue to be closely monitored for safety,” Newman said, saying she believes reports showing the medicine to be the most highly-scrutinized vaccine in history.

Since some children naturally hate needles, doctors said they can use numbing creams and sprays as a distraction during the procedure.

“I have four kids and I have one kid like that. I raised them all the same and some kids are like that,” Bakke said. “It can be very stressful.”