DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dayton Children’s Hospital saw an increased interest in the COVID-19 vaccine before school started, and health officials want to see that momentum continue even with kids back in school.

Dayton Children’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adam Mezoff said the push during the summer was to make sure kids would be fully vaccinated before they returned to school.

“While the initial roll out there was a small but steady interest, there was there was a definite increase over the last, say, 4 to 6 weeks,” Mezoff said.

In Ohio, nearly 28% of all 5 to 11-year-olds and 50% of 12 to 17-year-olds have started at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 1,348 covid-19 cases and 11 hospitalizations for children 17 and under were reported last week, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Mezoff said just because kids are already back in the classroom now, it’s not too late to get them their first dose.

“Part of the the benefit isn’t just trying not to get sick, which unfortunately it may or may not be that as effective as we’d like in doing that,”Mezoff said. “But still, the biggest part of the benefit is to try and prevent you from getting seriously ill.”

Mezoff said while the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t required to go to school, it’s especially important now that the CDC has lessened quarantine requirements if a student is exposed to the virus.

“Part of that acknowledges that this is now endemic, meaning that it’s it’s with us, so how do we push forward live with this but still be sensitive to the fact that we can get sick and it may be a preventable illness,” Mezoff said.

Health officials told 2NEWS the data for routine children’s vaccines is reported by school districts to the Ohio Department of Health and won’t be available until October.