NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A lot of Connecticut parents are not getting their children ages five to 11 vaccinated. Only 22% of kids in that age group are vaccinated here.

With pediatric hospitalizations surging up, a Yale doctor and his daughter have a message for parents.

At a recent Yale Children’s vaccine clinic, 11-year-old Chidera Ogbuagu got her COVID vaccine to be able to do things she once enjoyed safely.

“It feels safer because I know I’m less at risk to get COVID,” she said. “I’m protecting myself, I’m protecting other people, I’m protecting my friends.”

Being vaccinated, she also likes the fact that she does not have to quarantine if there is a COVID case at her school.

“It has definitely been a great tool in my life and I am very happy right now,” she said.

Her father, Yale physician Onyema Ogbuagu, ran vaccine trials at Yale with the vaccine on children. He said there is a misconception that kids can handle COVID well, which is not always the case.

On Friday, the CDC said hospitalizations in U.S. children under age five with COVID are soaring dramatically to unprecedented levels, a worrisome trend in youngsters, some to young to be vaccinated. Some have underlying health conditions.

Dr. Ogbuagu said COVID is raging across all age groups and trials, including his, proved that the vaccine is safe for kids and teens.

“The CDC data, which is independent of our study, again confirms the findings we had in the study that the vaccine is overwhelmingly safe, very well tolerated by the kids,” Ogbuagu said.

Health experts urge parents of children under five who can not yet get vaccinated to continue with safety precautions like masking and handwashing while indoors.