WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Parents are reacting to the D.C. Council’s decision to delay the COVID vaccine mandate for schools. The vote came down last night and it means the kids won’t have to get the shot until next school year. This decision to delay the COVID vaccine mandate is sounding the alarm not only for parents, but also for local pediatricians.

D.C. Public Schools have reported that 44% of students or roughly 2 in 5 kids are behind on their COVID vaccines for the current school year and it’s raising red flags for pediatricians. Dr. Gabrina Dixon, the Pediatric Hospitalist Physician and the Director of Advancing Diversity in Academic Pediatrics, explains that practitioners have seen a “distinct decline” in vaccinations in children caused by the COVID pandemic.

“We’re already seeing higher rates of kids being hospitalized for respiratory illnesses. You really want everybody able to get vaccinated that can because it protects those who are not able to get vaccinated,” Dr. Dixon explained. “It takes a community it can’t just be one person. It takes a whole community to do it.”

The decision is sounding alarm bells for Ward 3 DCPS parent Elizabeth Mitchell.

“Why? Why haven’t we gotten all these kids in compliance? We don’t have that big of a school system,” Mitchell said.

The D.C. Council voted on Tuesday night to extend the deadline for vaccine compliance. Some DCPS parents who spoke with DC News Now are frustrated with the decision. Many chose to speak to reporter Katie Rhee virtually as they did not feel comfortable or safe meeting in person.

Alexandra Simbana explained her two Pre-K-3 students contracted a respiratory illness after just two weeks in the classroom.

“It increasingly is very frustrating to try and be a good citizen in this town and a good parent in this town,” Simbana said. “No matter that our family is taking as many precautions as possible to keep ourselves and other people safe, if other people aren’t taking those same precautions, it can only help us so much.”

Mitchell explained her 5th grader brought home COVID twice just this year, adding more stress to their home as her husband is completing cancer treatments. She is worried about the lack of ventilation in her student’s classroom as well as the lack of masking done by the other students and staff.

“It’s very disconcerting. I really don’t know what he’s walking into. When covid started, I was working with a couple of other people who were going door to door to get people vaccinated. Why aren’t we doing that right now?” Mitchell questioned. “We know where the students are, why aren’t we meeting them where they are with what they need?”

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson says the bill D.C. Council approved last night does not eliminate a COVID vaccine mandate, it just gives the District more time to look at the impact.