One Million Under-12s Vaxxed

Kids 5-11 are getting their COVID shots at a rapid pace, but will it continue?

NPR reports that “Nearly 1 million kids ages 5-11 will have their first COVID shots by the end of today.”

Beloved stuffed animals in hand, they lined up at schools, pop-up clinics and children’s hospitals to do something that little kids generally hate to do: get shots. COVID vaccinations for 5-11 year olds began in earnest late last week, ramping up over the weekend and early this week.

By the end of the day on Wednesday, approximately 900,000 elementary-aged children will have gotten their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, a White House official shared with NPR in advance of an announcement expected later in the day.

That represents about 3% of children aged 5 to 11. 700,000 more have appointments scheduled in the days ahead at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.

“This does not include appointments being made, for example, at places like pediatricians offices, children hospitals and other sites,” the official said.

For the White House, this is an early and encouraging sign in the effort to vaccinate 5 to 11 year olds, though it is impossible to tell from these initial numbers whether vaccinations will continue apace or hit a plateau of hesitancy as they have with other age groups. Unlike previous expansions of vaccine availability, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for these younger children comes in a smaller dose with different packaging and smaller needles.

Vaccines for this age group couldn’t be packaged and shipped until the FDA gave emergency use authorization on Oct. 29, and it’s been a dash ever since.

[…]

Because it is a new program, comparisons are imperfect. A week after authorization of vaccines for 12-15 year olds, a larger share of the eligible population had gotten their first dose than 5-11 year olds so far. But adolescents were getting the same vaccine doses already widely available to adults in pharmacies and doctor’s offices all over the country, so there was no ramp-up time needed.

recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found only 27% of parents planned to rush right out and get their 5-11 year olds vaccinated for COVID-19. A full 30% said they definitely would not get their children vaccinated. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has raised alarms about misinformation, pleading with parents to do their research using reliable sources and to talk to their children’s pediatricians if they have questions.

Some parents have complained about having trouble finding appointments. Still, over the weekend social media flooded with pictures of masked children sporting brightly colored band-aids.

I have an appointment for my Moderna booster this afternoon but was unable to find a nearby dose of Pfizer for my 10-year-old. I’ll try again soon.

While I get that the risk-reward calculus changes with the little ones, who are at much less risk from the disease to begin with, it still seems like a no-brainer to get her vaxxed with a pandemic still raging and the virus mutating to ever-more-virulent strains.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Parenting
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Rofer says:

    While I get that the risk-reward calculus changes with the little ones, who are at much less risk from the disease to begin with

    That assumes a very narrow, individualistic view of risk-reward. As long as we have large quantities of virus circulating, everyone is at higher risk. Children are a part of this, maybe a big part.

    What’s cool is that children under 5 are only 6% of the population. So we’re getting closer to being able to vaccinate the whole population. If we want.

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  2. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found only 27% of parents planned to rush right out and get their 5-11 year olds vaccinated for COVID-19. A full 30% said they definitely would not get their children vaccinated

    So we’ll end up at about true 70%–which spells true 55-60% in my county–when all is said and done. And we get an argument in Congress and state houses over the coming vaccine mandate to attend school that will be along in the new year–calendar or academic.

    Cool. Who doesn’t love going to the circus? 🙁

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  3. Franklin says:

    My youngest is in this age range. Appointments disappeared fast in my liberal college town, but my child has one this weekend. Yay!

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  4. Kathy says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    That assumes a very narrow, individualistic view of risk-reward.

    Absolutely (why am I limited to one upvote?)

    A pandemic affects the whole world, not just individuals. We’re all at risk of both catching COVID and spreading SARS-CoV-2.

    Last week, I read a piece somewhere, I forget where, that advocated vaccinating those over 65 only, as they’re the group most at risk of death. This made sense when the vaccine supply was limited. This is still the case in many poor countries, and even some middle income ones. But when vaccines are plentiful, protecting only those at higher risk of death is stupid. Vaccinating everyone protects everyone, including those at low risk and those at very high risk because they can’t take the vaccine for medical reasons.

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  5. Gustopher says:

    While I get that the risk-reward calculus changes with the little ones, who are at much less risk from the disease to begin with, it still seems like a no-brainer to get her vaxxed with a pandemic still raging and the virus mutating to ever-more-virulent strains.

    The calculus you mention implies that children do not interact with the rest of society, including their family.

    When Little Sally brings home the plague that kills her grandmother or father, she has lost free childcare, a major income, and likely knows that she was the proximate cause, even if she doesn’t know what the word “proximate” means. That might not be Little Sally on a ventilator (although that does happen), but it isn’t good for Little Sally’s long term success in life.

    Now, if the kid is in boarding school… ok, now we have the little plague rat separated from the rest of her family, so when she is the cause of someone’s death that person can just be replaced with a new hire.

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  6. Dutchgirl says:

    In October, I listened to a segment from On Point on NRP about “covid math”. One guest was Tracy Høeg, physician, author of the article “How to Fix Our Broken Relationship with COVID Math.”
    Great, I thought. We do have a problem understanding risk and such. But the argument was strongly in the direction of ‘the kids don’t get that sick, so we only need to focus on the olds’ and I was so frustrated.
    Commenters above have already pointed out why that’s a bad idea, and I hope to see lots of vaccinations in the young ones this year.

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  7. JKB says:

    I do hope it works out well for your 10-yr old. I believe you have daughters so that’s fortunate in the risk profile. But the risks to healthy children from the virus is near zero, while the risk from the vaccines is not.

    Based on the data: We should not be giving healthy kids a 2nd vax dose at a 3wk interval, esp boys where 1/7K get myocarditis and 1/136 of them died, i.e. from the vax itself(NEJM study). Vax deaths could approximate Covid deaths in boys 5-11 w/no comorbid

    Marty Makary MD, MPH, professor at Johns Hopkins.

    A 14% chance of inducing an inflammation of the muscular tissue of the heart in healthy child is no nothing.