MADERA, Calif. (KGPE) – California Senator Alex Padilla joined forces with representatives from Valley Children’s Hospital and other pediatric hospitals around the state, brainstorming ways to maximize the effort to keep kids safe from COVID-19.  

In California, nearly 67% of children ages five to 11 and almost 28% of children ages 12 to 17 remain unvaccinated. 

In the Central Valley, doctors continue to push for more kids to get vaccinated. 

“Getting vaccinated is critical for kids, not just for their physical health, but also for their mental health, it allows people to get back into schools, it allows kids to stay out on quarantine,” said Dr. Carmela Sosa from Valley Children’s.  

President of the California Children’s Hospital Association, Ann Kuhns says in just this month, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children grew by more than half a million with almost 1.4 million children in California testing positive for COVID-19.  

“For the past two years, our hospitals have been on the frontlines of treating serious pediatric COVID-19 cases, they have seen how youngest, most vulnerable children have been impacted by this virus and broader impact in our communities,” said Kuhns.  

Doctors say that in California children under 17 now make up over 18% of all COVID-19 cases with that number expected to rise.  

Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 45 kids have died because of COVID-19 in the state of California.  

Senator Padilla says vaccination remains the most potent weapon to protect kids who are eligible to get the shots.  

“Vaccines are free, they are safe, they are effective and the best way to protect you, your family, and the community,” said Senator Alex Padilla.