The United States has distributed millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11 across the country, but demand for vaccinations for younger children is low, say public health officials and doctors in more than one twelve states.
Of the 28 million children of this age living in the United States, about 5 million have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to federal data.
Thousands of unallocated doses
At the current rate, less than half of children ages 5 to 11 living in the United States are expected to be fully vaccinated in the coming months, state officials told Reuters. Some states, including Mississippi, have announced that thousands of vaccine doses remain unavailable.
“We are concerned that demand will not be as rapid and high as it was for the adult population,” said Caryl Ratay, director of Delaware Public Health.
A lower dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 for people aged 5 to 11 was approved by US authorities last month, and the first vaccines were given to children on November 3.
The assessment of doctors
The reluctance of adult caregivers to vaccinate children has affected the rate of vaccinations in this age group more than vaccinations in other groups, doctors told Reuters.
“I think the parents are nervous. “There are probably too many parents who feel comfortable being vaccinated themselves; but are reluctant to vaccinate their children.” Matthew Harris, pediatrician leading the Covid-19 vaccine at Northwell Health Hospital in New York.
Child vaccinations have come to the fore amid concerns that the new Omicron variant of the virus, first identified in southern Africa and Hong Kong in late November, will spread rapidly to the United States, causing an increase in infections. which were already growing again due to the highly contagious Delta variant.
“Given Delta’s penetration of the community and the prospect of new variants spreading to the United States,” having as much immunity as possible in the population is critical, “he said. Ames Andalusia of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Safety.
While severe illness and death from Covid-19 among children are relatively rare, cases among unvaccinated people under the age of 17 have increased in recent months. Infected children can pass Covid-19 to other people who are at higher risk for serious illness, including those who have already been vaccinated.
What worries some parents
Some parents have been concerned about reports of heart inflammation, a rare side effect of the vaccine that has occurred in young men at a higher rate than in the rest of the population.
On Tuesday, Rosell Wallensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said her office was searching its databases and had found no reports of heart disease in people aged 5 to 11 who had been vaccinated.
Problem and staff shortages
The availability of vaccines to children can also be hampered by staff shortages at healthcare providers and the fact that the child vaccination business relies more on pediatricians rather than larger and more effective vaccination centers, says Sean O’Leary, a professor of pediatrics. at the University of Colorado.
Less than 20% of children ages 5 to 11 in the United States have had at least one vaccine dose so far, compared with 80% of American adults, according to federal data. Of particular concern is the fact that the number of children being vaccinated against Covid-19 in the United States may already be flattened.
Last week, more children received a second dose of Covid-19 vaccine than did the first dose, according to government data. This signals a slowdown in demand.
“I think what we hoped for was that the parents would have these important discussions with the pediatricians and that would give them the confidence to vaccinate their children,” he said. Thanks to Northwell Health. “I’m not sure this will actually happen.”