NORFOLK, Va. — As many Hampton Roads students go back to class, the U.S. reached a grim milestone in the fight against COVID-19.
The country has surpassed 40 million total cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Locally, Violette Blondin turned 12 on Tuesday.
Number one on her wish list? A COVID-19 vaccine.
"I felt good just to do it," Blondin said. "I’m excited to get the second one so I can be safe and make sure that everyone else is safe."
Her mother, U.S. Congresswoman Elaine Luria, said she was relieved to see her daughter become eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.
"I really value the protection from the vaccine and wanted her to be able to get it and, you know, we’re lucky her birthday is the first day of school, like very early in the schoolyear, so she can get that protection," Luria said.
Bob Engle with the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health said the number of people showing up to vaccination clinics at Military Circle Mall keeps going up.
Last week, they gave close to 350 shots. For the week of Sept. 5, they were anticipating that number might jump to more than 400.
"We’re expecting them to keep increasing as we go into October," he said.
He said a good amount of those appointments have been students.
"We have seen a fair share of parents bringing their kids in," Engle explained.
If your child is already back in the classroom or heading back later this week, you may be wondering how you can keep tabs on COVID-19 cases in their school.
Each school district is updating COVID-19 dashboards on their websites daily. That will tell you the number of positive cases, and how many students are in quarantine.
As for Violette, she said getting her first shot was the perfect birthday present.
Now she’s encouraging her classmates to do the same.
"You’ll be safe yourself once you’re done with it," she said. "You’ll make sure other people are safe."
Starting next week, the Virginia Beach Health Department is ramping up their vaccination efforts at Military Circle Mall, with the help of the Chesapeake Health Department.
Because of the high demand, they’re adding another vaccination day on Wednesdays, along with their testing clinic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has said mandating the COVID-19 vaccine in schools is "a good idea.”
When asked if she supports mandatory COVID vaccinations in schools, Luria said yes.
"I think now that Pfizer is now the vaccine that has been fully approved by the CDC, and we have a whole host of mandatory vaccines that children get from birth all the way to their first day of school, and so I think this should be added to the list," she said.