But doctors and public health experts didn’t expect such little interest in vaccines for young children.
Even where there is strong sentiment for vaccination, most young children are not vaccinated, including in districts with the highest vaccination coverage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Washington, D.C., only 21% of children aged 6 months to her 4 years old received one dose of her vaccine, and only 7.5% received two doses. is.
In Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, at the bottom of the list, the percentage is even lower, at less than 0.2%. Health officials are concerned that low vaccination coverage could leave the country vulnerable to coronavirus clusters in the fall and winter.
Nationwide, just under 325,000 infants are fully immunized, according to the CDC. While some parents blame the lack of access, experts believe that misinformation surrounding immunization of younger children is causing vaccine hesitation.
Peter Hotez, an infectious disease physician and pediatrician at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, had hoped vaccination rates would improve over the months, but they’re still stagnating.
“I thought maybe it was summer and people were traveling,” Hotez said.
Nationally, immunization coverage with a single dose increases with the age of the child. Single dose coverage for children under 5 years old is 6%. From 5 years old she is 38%, six times higher than that of an 11-year-old child. Young people aged 12 to 17 have the highest vaccination coverage at 70%.
According to Hotez, the low vaccination rates among the youngest children reflect poor communication about vaccination.
“We have not been able to explain the long-term developmental effects of covid in younger children very well,” Hotez said. “And future coronavirus variants are very likely.” .”
Between March 2020 and June 2022, 1.9 million children aged 1 to 4 tested positive for coronavirus and 202 died. These figures are low compared to data on adult mortality. Since the dawn of the pandemic, covid has killed more than 1 million US adults. Still, scientists are concerned about the lasting consequences of children contracting coronavirus, and whether children develop long-term problems from a single coronavirus infection or multiple infections. It says there is not enough data to decide.
Zachary Rubin, an Illinois pediatric allergist and immunologist, says even one child dying from a vaccine-preventable disease should be reason enough for parents to vaccinate their children. increase. He said there needs to be more concern among parents about the long-term effects of the virus on younger children, including symptoms that are difficult to diagnose, such as brain fog and loss of smell.
“Infants and toddlers can’t tell you if they’ve had fatigue or a constant headache, so even if the obvious physical symptoms subside, you can’t tell if something is lingering.
Parental reluctance to vaccinate is a result of declining confidence in public health guidance. A 2021 Harvard University survey found that many Americans are concerned about the functioning of public health agencies. Over the past decade, the public health system has experienced a decline in its positive reputation.
Megan C., a New Jersey mother who spoke on condition of anonymity over concerns about the family business, said she has children ages 8 and 3. He said it reflected a lack of trust.
“I’m not doing this because that’s what moms are doing right now. I’m standing up to Big Pharma and not vaccinating my kids.” Absolutely not,” she said. rice field. “I’m doing it because the healthcare system has failed badly in the past.”
The choice not to vaccinate her children was a personal one for Megan C.. She believes every parent should be able to make decisions based on her own family’s needs.
“Does not matter [other parents] Choose. they are your children And I wanted my family to have the same choice,” she said.
Some parents lament the lack of adequate promotion of vaccines to their younger children. When the FDA announced the shots would be available, Rachel Devore, a New York mother of sons ages 6 and 3, said she had not received any notice from her children’s doctors.
“My pediatrician never approached me. I called my pediatrician the day after I heard the vaccine was out. No, but it wasn’t as aggressive as she had thought.
Many of Devore’s friends say they didn’t know the vaccine was FDA-licensed for children under five until they learned it on social media.
“After I posted that I had my sons vaccinated, a friend’s mother contacted me on Facebook saying she didn’t know a vaccine was available and thanked me for posting about it. I did,” DeVore said.
Pediatrician Rubin said he wished public health officials had done more to promote the vaccine on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
“I don’t think government agencies have a strong presence to promote children under the age of five and try to debunk these myths,” he said.
This subtle message stands in stark contrast to December 2020, when the first coronavirus vaccine for adults hit the market. Then shout: “Shoot”. The message was powerful and head-on.
Politicians such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) were photographed hitting jabs, coining the phrase “Fauci ouchy”. Posters were pasted at bus stops in every city. The priority was immediate and dire. But now, two-and-a-half years after the pandemic, the urgency around immunizing children under five appears to have diminished.
“The message fell short,” said Kimberly Wychetheridge, a pediatrician and senior vice president of the Health Equity and Diversity Initiative at the Association of State and Territory Health Officials. “As the country becomes overloaded with COVID-19, the importance of vaccination recedes as the youngest children are targeted for vaccination.”
Anky Dutta, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, said stronger pushes by local public health officials could boost vaccination rates. As time goes on, doctors face another problem. With the fear surrounding the coronavirus fading, people are feeling more “comfortable with it”.
“Parents need information from someone they trust, and that person should be their home health care provider,” says Dutta.
The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to vaccinate their children, but pediatricians say access is an issue. Children under 18 months must be vaccinated by a pediatrician, unlike the adult vaccines offered at major pharmacies such as CVS and Her Walgreens. The CVS Minute Clinic only vaccinates children 18 months and older. Children over the age of 3 can be vaccinated from her Walgreens. Parents of children under the age of 5 often need to make an appointment with a pediatrician for vaccinations.
Doctors in Florida and Massachusetts are reporting that vaccines will have to be scrapped due to lack of demand, according to reports in the Miami Herald and Boston Globe.
“Wasted vaccines are vaccines available to those who need them to stay healthy,” said Wyche-Etheridge.
Anecdotally, part of the reason parents are reluctant to vaccinate may be due to the following calculation: The rare chance of death from the virus compares with the rare chance of serious vaccine-related complications. is compared to
“You can’t blame parents for being afraid to do this,” said Samira Armin, a Houston pediatrician who is urging parents to vaccinate their children. “I feel like they’re protecting their children, and that’s how it should be.” [aware] They may be choosing to let their children get COVID-19 multiple times, which has been shown to negatively impact future health and have cumulative consequences.
According to Armin, reactions to vaccines (pain, headache, muscle aches, chills) occur within days of receiving the vaccine. You can know
“It’s like having three glasses of wine. Whether you’re going to have a hangover the next day. A hangover doesn’t show up after three weeks,” Armin said.