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New York City set to require kids ages 5 to 11 to show proof of vaccination to enter businesses

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday indicated that children ages 5 to 11 who are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine will eventually need to show proof of vaccination to enter some businesses, but that it may take a "number of weeks" before this policy is introduced.

During a press briefing on the city's COVID-19 response, a WNYC-FM reporter asked the mayor at what point he will ask restaurants, gyms, and other organizations and institutions that require adults and teenagers to show proof of vaccination to extend that requirement to children, now that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for kids 5 to 11 years old.

"That's a very good question, and honestly one we need to focus on now," de Blasio said. "We want to get to the day where we actually could vaccinate the youngest New Yorkers and get that rolling. We know it'll take a while. I mean, right now, to use the example of the 12- to 17-year-olds, very good news, we're almost at 79% of them. That's fantastic, but it did take a while."

The mayor did not have an immediate answer on when the vaccine passport requirement will be extended to children, bud did say it won't happen "immediately" because 'it will naturally take a number of weeks for that age group to get vaccinated."

A similar requirement will be adopted in San Francisco, but not until at least eight weeks have passed to give children time to get vaccinated, city officials said last week.

According to de Blasio, nearly 17,000 children in New York City have received their first vaccine dose since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 last week.

On Monday, city public schools that serve children in that age group began opening public vaccination sites where children accompanied by or who have written or verbal consent from a parent or legal guardian may get their first pediatric vaccine dose. More than 1,000 sites will be opened by the end of the month at at schools across the city, WLNY-TV reported.

Widespread demand for the pediatric vaccines has caused long lines and delays at vaccination sites, and some parents have reported their children were turned away when sites ran out of doses.

Asked about reported shortages of vaccine doses, de Blasio said his administration is working to catch up with demand and ensure that pediatric vaccines are delivered to places where they are wanted.

"Overall what we're seeing is a lot of demand and a lot of kids getting vaccinated in our schools. And that's good news," de Blasio said.

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