Sep 15, 2022 - COVID

Getting Boston's kids vaccinated

Illustration of a backpack on a background of college ruled paper, surrounded by dots.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As students return to schools with looser COVID-19 restrictions, Boston health officials are trying to get more children vaccinated.

Why it matters: While three-quarters of Boston residents are fully vaccinated, that number drops to about 49% among kids ages 5-11.

  • More Black and Latino children in Boston remain unvaccinated compared with their white and Asian peers, according to the commission.
Data: Boston Public Health Commission; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Boston Public Health Commission; Chart: Axios Visuals

Context: City officials attribute the lower vaccination numbers among Black and Latino children to parents' lack of trust in health institutions because of the country's history of racist medical practices, like the federal government's Tuskegee Experiment.

Driving the news: The Boston Public Health Commission is stepping up efforts to promote pediatric vaccinations, starting with a back-to-school vaccination event Saturday at White Stadium.

  • City officials are offering COVID-19 shots for people ages 6 months and older, including the new bivalent boosters for people ages 12 and up, from 11am-3pm.
  • People who get vaccinated will get $75 gift cards.

What they're saying: "One of the biggest misconceptions among parents and caregivers is that COVID-19 doesn't significantly impact children. That isn’t true," said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, the city's commissioner of public health, in a statement to Axios. "Although COVID-19 is sometimes milder in children than in adults, some children do become very sick and require hospitalization."

  • Children with asthma, obesity and other underlying medical conditions are at higher risk of severe illness if they're infected with COVID-19, Ojikutu added.

Zoom out: Boston's COVID-19 community risk is low according to the CDC's guidelines, but the commission saw the city's wastewater levels rise by 76% in two weeks as of last Thursday, which city officials say could signal a coming rise in cases.

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