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Recent COVID cases at camps should encourage parents to get eligible children vaccinated, pediatrician says

The day camp at Camp Immokalee is closed this week. The overnight camp remains open. Those who tested positive are in quarantine.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Summer camps are in full swing. For pediatrician Dr. Ryan Cantville, that means taking precautions for your kids and their counselors.

"I think anywhere you go to send your child, your most prized possession, your kid, you can ask, 'Are they going to be in the hands of those who are going to be the least vulnerable to COVID right now who are vaccinated?'" Cantville told First Coast News. 

He says the best protection against COVID-19 infection is the vaccine. 

Dr. Cantville is a pediatrician and has no hesitancy in giving it to his six-year-old son when he's eligible.  

His 4-year-old daughter is part of a vaccine trial at the University of Florida.

"So parents, if you are thinking how is my young child going to do, my daughter didn't flinch," Cantville explained. "Did great. No side effects after her first immunization."

Seventeen campers at Camp Immokalee in Clay County tested positive recently, forcing the day camp to close this week. The overnight camp is still operating, but they are now requiring all campers have a negative test two days before they arrive while the staff is tested weekly.

Dr. Cantville said that shouldn't be a discouragement, but an encouragement to get children 12 and older vaccinated before the start of the school year.

"Jacksonville is making the national news, not for great reasons. But for COVID reasons," he explained. "So, let's be cognizant of what we are doing," he said.

Jacksonville is one of the areas of the country most affected by the surging Delta variant. About 15% of new cases of COVID-19 in Florida are in the Jacksonville area, while the state leads the nation in new COVID-19 cases.