Doctors urge vaccinations of younger kids but some parents are not in a rush

Kaiser Health News says 4.8% of kids 5 to 11 in Louisiana are fully-vaccinated
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 6:23 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As the Omicron variant surges in many states data show many parents are not in a rush to get their kids vaccinated against COVID-19 infection.

For months it has been shown that kids are not immune to the virus but vaccination rates for 5-to-11-year-olds are lagging according to an analysis of CDC data done by Kaiser Health News.

Dr. Mark Kline is physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. He says kids also get sick from the virus and some suffer worse consequences of the virus.

“I think the perception has been that COVID is not dangerous for young children and while most children who become infected with the virus do recover uneventfully and have relatively mild disease, not all of them do, some are severely ill and a few die,” said Kline.

According to a KHN interactive map, in Louisiana, 4.8% of kids ages 5-to-11 are fully vaccinated and 10.9% have had one dose of the authorized two-dose Pfizer vaccine.

“It’s really disappointing, you know, this vaccine is safe and effective for children five years of age and up. There was a flurry of activity after the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization in early November and then it just slowed to a trickle and there does not seem to be very much interest much interest,” Kline stated.

Neighboring Mississippi is not much better, in terms of vaccination rates for kids 5-to-11. The KHN map shows it has a fully vaccinated rate of 5.1 % and 9.6% had one dose.

Nationwide, thousands of kids are hospitalized daily COVID during this current wave of the virus and some end up in the ICU.

Dr. Johnathan Perno is with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

“It’s not just children who have underlying medical problems, so that’s what’s scary,” said Perno.

And some kids are hospitalized at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, though not as many as just days ago.

“We have 15 patients in the hospital today with a diagnosis of COVID, that’s down from a peak of 28 last week, so I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that maybe the worst of this is behind us. We’ll know more over the next few days I think,” said Kline.

And given the low vaccination rates among kids, Dr. Kline believes parents who were eager to get their kids vaccinated jumped at the chance once the shots were available.

“Yes, I think that the parents who were enthusiastic about having their children vaccinated have done so,” said Kline.

He says other parents are skeptical of the vaccine.

“When I talk to parents, I hear them say that they’re worried that the vaccine was developed very quickly, maybe it wasn’t tested adequately in children, maybe some corners were cut in its development--that’s not the case. It went through a very rigorous process of review and approval, and I’m personally convinced that the vaccine is safe and effective,” said Kline.

So much so he said he recommended the vaccine for his grandkids. And he says parents of kids who are too young to be vaccinated should surround them with vaccinated people.

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