Jan 18, 2022 - COVID

Child vaccinations lagging in Nashville

Note: Data is not shown for states in which the county was unknown for at least 10% of the children vaccinated in that state, or where children vaccination data was unavailable; Reproduced from a KHN analysis of CDC and NCHS data: Chart: Axios Visuals

Fewer than one in five eligible young children in Nashville are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to an analysis of federal data from Kaiser Health News.

  • And in many of Tennessee's rural counties, the percentage of vaccinated youth ages 5-11 falls into the low single digits.

Why it matters: "There's a myth that's been circulating since the beginning of the pandemic that children don't get sick from COVID, and that's simply not true," James Antoon, a doctor and professor at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, tells Axios.

  • "I see children hospitalized for COVID every day," Antoon says.
  • Often, he says, parents change their minds and want to pursue vaccination after their children are seriously ill.

By the numbers: Pediatric hospitalizations have spiked in Tennessee with the rise of the Omicron variant.

  • 70 minors who tested positive for COVID were hospitalized in Tennessee as of last Wednesday, seven of them in intensive care.

Between the lines: Vaccinating kids and adults is the best way to protect babies and young children ages 0-4, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

  • "We need to protect them because they can't protect themselves," Antoon says. "The way to do that is to vaccinate everyone around them."
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