There have been exasperating setbacks in our slog through the COVID-19 pandemic.

After suffering through repeated shutdowns, mask mandates and other requirements, the arrival of vaccine let people hope normalcy could return. While much of daily life has been more typical, new spikes in COVID cases, including breakthrough cases, brought the realization that the pandemic would not release its grip easily.

This week there is renewed hope for making additional progress toward an endgame. This weekend children ages 5 to 11 began getting their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, including kids whose parents brought them to be vaccinated at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato.

While kids have largely been spared the serious illness and death from COVID, they aren’t immune from getting it. While most children have thankfully escaped the worst ravages of the pandemic, those who contract COVID help fuel the spread.

Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the smaller dose Pfizer vaccine for school-age children, parents can give their kids significant protection from getting COVID-19. We hope enough parents choose vaccinations in order to take a big step toward the normalcy we all want.

While a majority of parents surveyed have said they would get their kids vaccinated, there still remains a large number of vaccine skeptics. The science shows the vaccine is effective and safe, and that’s been borne out by all of the adults and those age 12 and older who have received their shots.

While continuing to get more Americans vaccinated is the No. 1 need, there has been other positive news recently. Pfizer has announced successful clinical trials for a pill that can fight coronavirus. While the oral antiviral can’t reduce the number of people who contract COVID, it would be a major victory if it is ultimately approved for use.

Allowing people to take a pill to curb the worst effects of COVID would allow more patients to avoid going to the hospital for treatment and reduce the severity of symptoms and the death rate.

We hope the weeks ahead will see millions of kids vaccinated, making schools safer and reducing the overall spread of COVID. The increased vaccination access along with continued caution and the coming of an oral treatment offer the best hope we will indeed reach normalcy soon.

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