COVID-19 vaccination rates for young children are "very disappointing", says a Utah doctor.  Here's what he wants parents to know

COVID-19 vaccination rates for young children are “very disappointing”, says a Utah doctor. Here’s what he wants parents to know

Just over 7% of Utah children under age 5 have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

But Utah’s rates for this age group are still higher than those for the United States as a whole.

Nationally, only 6% of children under 5 received at least one of the reduced doses of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for infants and toddlers that were finally authorized in June after a month of delay for children as young as 6 months old by federal health officials, The Washington Post reported this week.

Yet COVID-19 vaccination rates are much higher among older children and teens — six times higher for children ages 5 to 11, at 38% nationally, and nearly double of that rate for ages 12 to 17, to 70%, according to the Post. In Utah, the state reports similar numbers, with 37.4% of children ages 5 to 11 and 70.6% of those ages 12 to 18 having had a first shot.

Nationwide, more than 4 in 10 parents – 43% – with children 6 months to 4 years old said they would ‘definitely not’ get them vaccinated against the deadly virus, a Kaiser poll shows. Family Foundation made in July.

“It is very disappointing that we have had such low uptake of the vaccine. It’s a very safe and effective vaccine for children,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and director of epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, Deseret. News.

Rich Lakin, immunization director for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said the numbers for young children were anticipated because interest in lining up for vaccines has tended to decline in each new age group as they became eligible for the vaccine.

“We are doing pretty well. I’m happy with what we see. I think people understand the importance. We expected it to be slower,” Lakin said. “We’re just following the trend, which we’ve seen with the older ages as you really go down the ladder.”

Washington, DC, has the highest percentage of children 6 months to 4 years old who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, about 21%, while Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are at the bottom of the list, with less than 0.2 percent of that age group receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, the Post reported.

Lakin said that as winter approaches, the COVID-19 vaccination rate is expected to increase for all age groups.

“I anticipate that we will probably see a higher increase as we get closer to winter, when we start to see cases increase probably,” the director of immunization said. “We generally see a trend with vaccination versus disease severity.”

Pavia, who spoke about the frustrating wait for COVID-19 vaccines for infants and toddlers and that he considers getting them vaccinated is not a no-brainer for parents, said one of the reasons why more vaccines have not been given is that the vaccine only became available in early summer.

“It’s not usually a time when you take your kids to the doctor,” he said. “It may have slowed down a bit.”

On top of that, the doctor said, “there is a general perception that COVID is over which, as we all know, is unfortunately not true,”

According to the latest state update last Thursday, Utah has recorded nearly 2,500 new cases of COVID-19 along with a dozen additional deaths from the virus. Utah’s death toll has now passed another grim milestone, with 5,001 lives lost, including seven among children and teens ages 1 to 14.

The virus also continues to pose other risks to children.

“Over the summer, when people thought COVID was gone, we had a sustained high level of childhood hospitalizations for COVID in Utah and across the country,” Pavia said. “So it doesn’t make the headlines, but it’s still there.”

He said it can be difficult for people to categorize young children’s risk of COVID-19.

“If you compare it to the risk of serious illness in older people, it doesn’t look very bad. But if you compare it to other diseases that we worry about for our children,” he said, their risk is currently higher for COVID-19 than “for most other diseases for which we willingly vaccinate. our children”.

At the same time, some parents may go too far to the other extreme, thinking of childhood COVID-19 vaccines “as if to protect them against a huge threat that will kill thousands of children rather than just one important way to keep our children healthy,” Pavia said.

Almost a fifth of parents in the July poll who said they would not vaccinate their young children said their main concern was that they thought the vaccine, the first to use so-called technology mRNA, is too new and there is not enough testing or research, the most common reason given.

The doctor said people didn’t realize they weren’t considered new vaccines anymore.

“We have now given literally almost half a billion doses of mRNA vaccines, so the safety record is now very good,” Pavia said. “It was a very legitimate concern two years ago that we didn’t know much about long-term safety. But that perception should have changed.

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