Among America's Youngest, a COVID Vaccine 'Logjam'

Just 4% to 5% of kids have gotten their shots; pediatricians are now trying to break the 'logjam'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2022 9:10 AM CDT
Tiny Percent of America's Youngest Have Had COVID Vax
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Choreograph)

Nearly two months ago, the CDC recommended that all kids from 6 months old up to 5 years—more than 17 million children across the nation—get vaccinated against COVID-19, guidance echoed by the American Medical Association. But since June 18, when the CDC gave the official OK for children in that age bracket to receive the shots, only between 750,000 and 800,000 of them, or about 4% to 5%, have done so, reports the Wall Street Journal, citing estimates from the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics. For context, about 18% of their older counterparts ages 5 to 11 had been vaccinated a month after they got the green light to do so late last year. Today, the number for that group stands at 38% or so.

"The rates of uptake are just not what we would hope," Brannon Traxler, public health chief for South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control, tells the paper, which lists multiple reasons for the lagging numbers. Among them, per health officials, physicians, and parents: kids who've recently been infected, parents waiting until their children's next wellness visit, and those who don't think COVID is anything to be worried about. There are also parents still wary of the vaccine. "I tend to be a slower adopter of newer technologies," a New Jersey science teacher, dad to an 8-month-old and a 3-year-old, says. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll last month signals that these numbers may not significantly jump anytime soon: That survey found that more than 40% of parents of kids in this youngest age group say they will "definitely not" get their children vaccinated, citing safety concerns.

About 10% of parents for this demographic say their kids don't need the vaccine or that COVID isn't a threat, while 53% of them believe the vaccine is riskier than the disease itself. The Journal notes most children who get COVID are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms, and that they're not as likely as adults to become hospitalized or die, but hospitalizations rose among kids after the omicron variant emerged, and kids can still spread the disease to older, more vulnerable people. Pediatricians are now trying to break this vaccination "logjam," per Medscape. "We tell them that COVID-19 vaccines have been studied in remarkable depth, and it's found to be safe and effective," says Dr. Ann Masciantonio, chief of ambulatory pediatrics for ChristianaCare. "I always say the research and the clinical trials for the vaccine are strict and stringent. The process was not rushed." (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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