Aug 1, 2022 - COVID

Young Utah children aren't getting COVID vaccines

Illustration of a syringe laying across the top of a hurdle.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Kids under five are shaping up to be the least vaccinated age group in Utah.

Driving the news: Only 4% of Utah children younger than 5 have received a COVID vaccine as of last week.

  • It's been more than a month since vaccines were released for kids ages 6 months to 4 years old.

Why it matters: Vaccines are an important step to preventing kids from getting seriously ill, said Dr. Andy Pavia, an infectious diseases specialist for Primary Children's Hospital.

  • During the winter omicron spike, COVID accounted for 15% of all ER visits for children, Pavia said in a news conference in June.
  • Children under 5 were hospitalized for COVID at higher rates than older kids — likely because they weren't yet vaccine-eligible, Pavia said.

By the numbers: It took less than one week for 4% of Utah kids ages 5 to 11 to get vaccinated.

  • More than 4% of those 12 to 18 were vaccinated less than a week after the state opened vaccinations to patients younger than 50 — even though only 16 to 18-year-olds were eligible.

How it works: State health officials have pushed to have pediatricians give COVID shots to the youngest children, along with their other immunizations.

  • But if you want to get your kids vaccinated elsewhere, check vaccines.gov for a map of pharmacies and providers that are carrying the shots.

The Salt Lake County Health Department provides vaccines by appointment to young children, free of charge.

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