By Marlee Ginter

WOODLAND (CBS13) — Woodland held its first drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic for children ages 5-11.

Parents like Bliecek Villegas lined up with kids in tow.

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“It is very important. We want to keep them safe,” she said.

Health experts are calling the new clinics critical.

We talked with Dr. Dean Blumberg over Zoom. He’s a pediatric infectious disease expert with UC Davis Health who’s reminding people it’s also currently flu season.

“We know, as an individual concern, it’s something to be worried about because we know people who have COVID and influenza are more likely to end up in the ICU and intubated on a ventilator,” he said.

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Blumberg said current models show a jump in winter COVID-19 cases. He said it’s more than what he saw this summer when restrictions loosened back up.

Saturday’s clinic was one of many aiming to curb the surge.

“It’s absolutely a positive thing. Most importantly, it’s a positive thing for those individuals are going to be protected against serious disease,” Blumberg said.

Clinics have now opened up to more kids while adults are getting their booster shots. It didn’t hurt to have 1,100 stuffed bears on hand to help ease the anxiety of the little ones.

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“It’s nice to see this many people coming out to either get their kids getting their first shot or them getting their boosters,” one parent at the Woodland clinic said.