Covid vaccines are slowly rolling out for children under 5

Health workers across the United States began administering Covid-19 vaccines to children aged 6 months to 5 years on Tuesday, another milestone in the coronavirus pandemic that came 18 long months after adults began receiving injections against the virus.

But the response from parents has been particularly muted, with little indication of the excitement and long lines that have greeted previous vaccine rollouts.

An April poll showed that less than a fifth of parents of children under 5 were eager to get access to the vaccine right away. Early adopters in this age group seemed like outliers.

At 9 a.m., Dayton Children’s Hospital in Ohio became one of the first sites to vaccinate the youngest children, with the three-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine aimed at that age group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also approved a second option for young children, a two-dose regimen of Moderna.

Brian Wentzel, 38, brought in his 2-year-old son, Bodhi, at 9.15am. The boy grabbed a stuffed dog and bravely took the hit in his leg. Her mother is a doctor at the hospital.

“It was important to get him vaccinated,” Mr. Wentzel said. “It is extremely effective in preventing serious diseases.”

At a White House press conference on Tuesday afternoon, President Biden called expanded vaccines a “monumental step forward.”

“The United States,” he continued, “is now the first country in the world to offer safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months old.”

He encouraged all Americans to get vaccinated and said parents should speak to a family doctor if they have questions. In addition to doctor’s offices, hospitals and clinics, drugstore chains CVS, Walgreens and Walmart would soon offer vaccines to younger children, Biden said.

The president also addressed, albeit indirectly, a controversy in Florida, where the state refused to pre-order vaccine doses for young children. Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican with presidential ambitions, said last week, “We are affirmatively against the Covid vaccine for young children.

On Tuesday, Mr Biden said “elected officials should not get in the way and make it harder for parents”.

Florida has since allowed health care providers to order the vaccines, but in many places — including Florida and New York — the vaccines did not yet appear to be widely available. Some pediatric practices have reported that they have not yet received the injections or plan to administer the vaccine primarily during regular well visits.

Still, the families’ claims are limited. The reasons for parental hesitancy to vaccination are varied. Two years into the pandemic, many families have resigned themselves to living with the virus, and a majority of American children have already been infected, mostly showing mild symptoms.

Although vaccines remain highly effective at protecting against serious illness and death, they have become less effective at preventing infection as the virus has mutated, leading to public disappointment and cynicism at the regard to injections. Some parents have faced widespread misinformation about the risks, while others worry about rare side effects or simply don’t want their children to be among the first to receive a newly accessible vaccine.

This is the case even as parents and young children have endured some of the earliest public health and education restrictions due to their lack of access to a vaccine. And that’s especially true in liberal-leaning states and cities, which have taken a more cautious approach to the virus.

Many daycare centers and preschools still require masking and quarantine periods for children who come into close contact with the virus, although K-12 schools have generally lifted those precautions. Parents are exhausted after years of disrupted routines and report that their young children have never experienced normal school or socialization.

Joseph G. Allen, a Harvard University expert on indoor environmental quality who has studied the coronavirus and schools, said he thinks it’s time for most restrictions on young people children are lifted. Even though uptake of the newest pediatric vaccine is limited, he said, young children are “least at risk and have the heaviest burdens because adults do what they want.”

The best way for child care centers and schools to protect students and staff over the next year, when new variants may emerge, is to invest in air quality improvements such as upgrades. upgrade the HVAC system and portable air purifiers with HEPA filters, Professor Allen said.

So far, the pediatric vaccination campaign has disappointed many public health experts. Less than 30% of children aged 5 to 11 have received two vaccines, and vaccination rates may be even lower in young children. With parental reluctance high, only California and Washington, DC, have announced plans to require Covid-19 vaccination for school attendance, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

At a paddling pool in West St. Paul, Minnesota, Jen Wilkerson, 28, a barista, said she had no plans to vaccinate her son Jaxson, 4, even if she was vaccinated.

She said she became concerned after developing bumps in her leg following two vaccines for other illnesses, and recalled that Jaxson did not fall ill when she contracted Covid-19 l ‘last year.

“He’s a little window-slicker,” she said. “With the strength of his immune system, I don’t feel the need for him to get vaccinated at the moment. I’m waiting for him to get older. I’ll wait until he’s around 10.

In Durant, Mississippi, Monique Moore, 39, a teacher, said she would wait several months until her son Rashun was 5 before having him vaccinated.

“I didn’t want him to be in the first batch to do it,” she said, “but I didn’t want to not do it either.”

Doctors and vaccine experts say parents of 4-year-olds shouldn’t delay vaccinations.

Other parents said that vaccination would finally get them out of a difficult time in their lives.

In Brookline, Mass., Jenn Erickson, 40, quit her job when her son Miro was born at the start of the pandemic. She has “no hesitation” in having him vaccinated, she said, as it would allow her to confidently enroll her son in daycare while she returns to work.

“It feels like a lot of the world has moved on without us,” Ms Erickson said. “Children who were born during the pandemic finally have some protection. We are going to have to organize a massive celebration for the parents who have had to bear this enormous stress. »

And for some families, the new vaccine will be life changing.

Whitney Stohr, 35, of Lynnwood, Wash., planned to take her 4-year-old son, Malachi Stohr-Hendrickson, for a shot Tuesday at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Malachi suffers from spina bifida, hydrocephalus and congenital heart defects which put him at high risk for complications from Covid-19. For more than two years, the family has remained isolated.

The firing will mean Malachi will start occupational therapy and physiotherapy in person and kindergarten. And since he needs round-the-clock assistance, he will start receiving respite care from Ms. Stohr’s mother.

“It’s just going to be a huge sense of relief,” Ms. Stohr said. “It will just remove a deep fear that the virus will catch it before we have a chance to try to stop it and try to prevent it.”

The report was provided by Kevin Williams, Christina Capechi, Ellen B. Meacham, Catherine McGloin, Alanis Thames, Adam Bednar and Hallie Golden.


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