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Local Leaders In Markham Urge People To Get COVID-19 Vaccinations Before School Starts

MARKHAM, Ill. (CBS) -- In one south suburban community, leaders spent the day Sunday encouraging residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 - especially before their kids head back to school.

As CBS 2's Meredith Barack explained, health care officials are also hopeful that Food and Drug Administration approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – expected as soon as Monday - will get more shots into arms.

"It's something to want to have your kids to go back to school, but it's kind of tough right now with wanting to be extra safe and vigilant about what we need to do to be safe," said Markham Mayor Roger Agpawa.

They were gearing up for a new school year in Markham Sunday with new haircuts and a box full of supplies. There is something else leaders hope people walk away with as well.

"If we can encourage the parents, that's where it's at," Agpawa said.

Agpawa said it's especially important to get shots into arms as he says not enough residents are protected against COVID-19.

"We're not near where we should be at. We're not proud of our numbers at all," Agpawa said. "I think that we're right around 40-50 percent. We're very low in the area and we should be doing much better.

The Family Christian Health Center is working hard to get more residents vaccinated.

"I'm hoping we're going to have a lot more kids that are 12 and older that want the vaccine," said Mia Webster-Cross, Director of Community Health and Programs at the Family Christian Health Center. "We want to make sure that people are safe - especially in our communities in the south suburbs. Our numbers have been a little bit low, but we're seeing an uptick in probably the last eight weeks."

Health care workers said they have heard from a number of people who are hesitant to get the vaccine because of a lack of FDA approval. They're hopeful that once that approval goes through, the number of people getting the vaccine will go up.

"You have a lot of people that believe in the science, but a lot of people also are relying on the FDA to approve it as well - so I think once we get that, you're going to see surge of more people wanting to get the vaccine," Webster-Cross said, "and we're prepared. We're ready to vaccinate."

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