Experts alarmed by COVID vaccination rates among America’s youngest kids

Less than 325,000 of America’s youngest children are fully vaccinated as hesitancy continues to dog the pandemic response.

Why it matters: Health officials are sounding the alarm over the potential of low child vaccination rates fueling transmission and carrying the risk of severe illness for some of the youngest Americans.

  • What’s at stake really with this is that we’re going to be setting up a bunch of kids for risk of severe disease in the future,” Daniel Blatt, a pediatric infectious disease physician at the University of Louisville and Norton Children’s Hospital, told Axios.
  • “We don’t really know what the next variant is gonna be. And the way to get ahead of that next variant is to give children a blueprint on how to fight it and that’s what the vaccine does.”

Zoom in: In D.C., which has the highest percentage of young children vaccinated, less than one quarter of children 6 months to four years old have received one dose— and 7.5% have received both doses, per the Washington Post.

  • The states with some of the lowest child vaccination rates — Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi — have vaccination rates of less than 0.2%, the Post found.

The big picture: The Food and Drug Administration in June authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children between 6 months and 5 years — about a year and a half after the first vaccines were made available for vulnerable adults.

  • Children under 5 have had the highest rates of hospitalization from COVID among youth, per the CDC.

State of play: Vaccine hesitancy is typically amplified among parents making decisions about their children’s health, Blatt said.

  • “If a child is going to do something or we’re going to do something to a child, a parent will always be more nervous if that child is younger, and we’re seeing that with the COVID vaccine.”
  • Vaccine misinformation and insufficient communication about vaccinations are both contributing to the low rates, Peter Hotez, an infectious-disease physician and pediatrician at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told the Post.
  • “We haven’t done a good job explaining the long-term developmental consequences of long covid for younger children,” Hotez said.

The bottom line: “We do lots of things for safety for children … they wear bicycle helmets, they eat nutritious food, they get regular checkups,” Blatt said.

  • “These are things that are part of a routine medical care, and COVID vaccines, just like other routine vaccinations, is just part of the whole picture to keep a child safe.”

Go deeper… A pandemic hurdle crossed

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.