Jul 26, 2022 - News

Arizona sees low demand for COVID-19 vaccinations for young kids

Illustration of a stack of wooden toy blocks showing a syringe, a COVID cell and a cotton swab.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Relatively few parents of children under 5 have gotten their kids vaccinated against COVID-19 since the CDC approved a vaccine for young children in June.

Driving the news: Only 10,726 children ages 4 and under had gotten at least one dose as of July 20, according to Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) spokesperson Steve Elliott.

  • There are about 343,000 children under 5 in Arizona, though those under 6 months aren't yet eligible for the COVID vaccine.
  • About one third of children in the state ages 5-11 have received at least one dose, and about 25% had gotten two doses.
  • In June the FDA approved vaccinations for children through 4 years old.

The big picture: Arizona isn't alone in the low demand to get young kids vaxxed. Demand nationwide has been down.

Yes, but: Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, says the low vaccination numbers aren't concerning.

  • "They've been previously infected, for the most part. And from the very beginning, they've had the lowest risk for adverse health events," Humble tells Axios Phoenix.
  • Humble says it was initially difficult for children under 3 to get the vaccine because many places that have the shot wouldn't provide them to kids that young.

Context: Arizona, like the rest of the world, is experiencing a new surge of COVID-19 infections due to the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant.

  • Arizona saw 16,409 confirmed cases during the week of July 10, according to weekly ADHS data released Wednesday.
  • That number was down from 17,856 cases during the week of June 26, which thus far has been the highest number of the current surge.

The big picture: Not every pediatrician's office has the vaccine available, especially for children from 6 months to 4 years old, but there are plenty of other options.

  • Parents can search ADHS or Maricopa County Department of Public Health websites for pharmacies and other providers who offer COVID-19 vaccines for young kids.
  • Search options allow people to filter their results based on what brand of vaccine they want and what age group they're for.

Details: Sonia Singh, a spokesperson for the county health department, tells Axios Phoenix that federally qualified health care centers are available for anyone who doesn't have a primary care pediatrician.

  • The county also has a calendar that lists events where people can bring their children for COVID vaccines, like a back-to-school event it's hosting at the Laveen Education Center starting at 2pm today or at El Buen Pastor in Mesa from 9am-11am Wednesday.
  • The back-to-school event and community health centers are also great places to get other vaccines for your kids if they need to get caught up.

What they're saying: "We're trying to fill in those gaps. We're going out to the communities where we know that people have a harder time accessing care or there aren't as many providers around," Singh says.

Many pediatricians who have the vaccine provide it to their patients only, but there are some who will offer it to anyone.

  • Pleasant Pediatrics, which has several locations in the West Valley, will provide COVID-19 vaccines to anyone who wants it.
  • Jeremy's thought bubble: I had no trouble getting a quick appointment for one of my kids at Pleasant Pediatrics in Glendale.

Of note: Humble urges parents to keep in mind that many pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, won't vaccinate children under 3, so parents of younger kids will have to look elsewhere for COVID vaccines.

  • According to Walgreens' website, it offers vaccines to children 3 and up, while CVS says it has vaccines available for children as young as 18 months.
  • Even if a website says a provider gives vaccines to anyone 6 months or older, Singh recommends calling to make sure.

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