Children and COVID: Vaccines now available to all ages


The COVID-19 prevention effort in children enters its next phase as June draws to a close, while new pediatric cases continued on a downward trend and hospitalizations continued to rise.

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were approved for use in children as young as 6 months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on June 18.

Children aged 5-11 years with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

“We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated. ... I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said in a written statement.

There are, however, indications that many parents are not that eager. A survey conducted in April by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that only about 18% of parents were eager to get their children under age 5 years vaccinated right away and 27% said they would “definitely not” get their children vaccinated. Another 11% said “they will only do so if they are required,” Kaiser noted.

The vaccination experience with children aged 5-11 years seems to agree with those numbers. As of June 16, more than 7 months after the vaccine became available, just over 36% had received at least one dose and about 30% were fully vaccinated, CDC data show.

Number of weekly COVID-19 cases reported in children, United States

There are, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, still five states where less than 20% of eligible 5- to 11-year-olds have received an initial vaccination. Among children aged 12-17, uptake has been much higher: 70% have received at least one dose and 60% are fully vaccinated, the CDC said.

Trends for new cases, hospitalizations diverging

COVID incidence in children, meanwhile, dropped for the second time in 3 weeks. There were 83,000 new cases reported during June 10-16, a decline of 4.8% from the previous week, according to the AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association.

New cases had risen by a very slight 0.31% during the week of June 3-9 after dropping 22% the week before (May 27 to June 2). Total cases in children have surpassed 13.6 million, which represents 18.8% of cases in all ages since the start of the pandemic, the AAP and CHA said in their weekly COVID report.

New admissions of children with confirmed COVID-19, however, have continued to climb since early to mid April. On June 16, the rate for children aged 0-17 years was up to 0.31 per 100,000, compared with the 0.13 per 100,000 recorded as late as April 11, the CDC said on its COVID Data Tracker.

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