DALLAS – COVID-19 vaccinations among children and teens are not at the levels that a lot of health officials hoped.
It’s causing some concern among doctors as we head into the fall and winter when cases and hospitalizations typically go up.
The concern is we could experience a fall and winter wave of COVID-19 cases.
Right now, there are lower case counts and fewer hospitalizations and deaths, but children are still getting sick.
Pediatrician Julie Morita is the executive vice president of the Robert Wood Foundation. Since the opening of schools, she says children are still getting sick with COVID across the country.
“We still have tens of thousands of children that are still getting sick on a weekly basis,” she said. “And so we know that people are still getting sick.”
Vaccinations are lower than health professionals hoped: about 60% for pre-teens and teenagers and only about half of that at 30% for kids 5-11.
A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a teenager at Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida, U.S. Photographer: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images
“But when you look at our children that are less than 5 years of age coverage, levels are less than 10%. And those children may be vulnerable for COVID,” Morita said. “And we know that COVID can make them sick. It may not be as bad for them as it is for older adults or people with underlying health conditions, but certainly it can make them sick, and they could get long COVID or other long-term sicknesses as well. So I think it’s important for us to get out and get our children vaccinated as soon as we can.”
The coronavirus and its variants aren’t the only diseases kids need protection from.
“It’s influenza vaccines. It’s all the routine childhood vaccines. We really want our children to be protected from all those serious vaccines like measles, polio, mumps, and whooping cough. Those diseases are still out there. And unless we get our children vaccinated, they will be at risk,” Morita said. “There’s lots of different viruses out there right now. It’s really important that we think about what we do to protect our children to make sure that they can stay as healthy as possible throughout this school year.”
Dr. Morita says we have lots of evidence at this point that COVID vaccines are safe. She urges parents to speak with their pediatricians and consider getting their children protected.