Jan 19, 2022 - COVID

15% of Philly kids 5-11 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19

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

Around 15% of Philadelphia County children ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to analysis of federal data from Kaiser Health News.

  • The surrounding counties — Montgomery, Chester, Bucks and Delaware — are seeing higher vaccination rates for the age group, ranging between 26% to 39%.
  • More rural parts of the state are seeing rates in the single digits.

The big picture: Pediatric hospitalizations across the country have seen an uptick amid the most recent surge of COVID-19, primarily driven by the Omicron variant.

  • NIAID director Anthony Fauci pleaded to parents at the end of last year to get their children vaccinated when the age group became eligible, calling most child hospitalizations "avoidable."
  • Nationwide, 27% of children ages 5-11 have received at least one vaccine shot, and 18%, or five million kids, have received both doses, according to Jan. 12 CDC data.

Zoom in: On the state level, about a quarter of children ages 5-9 have had at least one dose of the vaccine. That rate rises to nearly 40% for minors ages 10 to 14.

What they're saying: Philadelphia Department of Health spokesperson James Garrow said he expects the rate of children getting vaccinated to continue to rise, even as the city battles skepticism of the vaccine.

  • "We've heard anecdotally that some people don't believe children need it because they're less affected by COVID," Garrow said. "Children can catch COVID, be hospitalized and die from it. It's rare, but I don't know anyone that would turn down a free chance to cut their child's risk of dying from a terrible disease."

Richard Wender, chair of Family Medicine and Community Health at Penn Medicine, said "the more kids who can get protected from COVID, the more likely it is that their lives can proceed normally."

  • "We know how important that is for mental health and for progress in school and every good thing that goes with that," he added.

Between the lines: The Omicron surge has left public schools scrambling to find enough staff, causing temporary mass closures of in-person learning.

  • As of Tuesday, 15 Philadelphia district schools shifted to virtual learning due to COVID-related staffing issues. That's down from two weeks ago, when about half of the district's schools had to pause in-person classes.

What to watch: Children under 5 are not eligible yet for the COVD-19 vaccine — and many families are hoping the age group will get approval soon.


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