ASHEVILLE, NC & ATLANTA, GA – April 25, 2022 – The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer- BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 to 11 in November. Two-thirds of the eligible children have not received their first dose. This is similar to Buncombe County vaccination rates. This age group has received the lowest percentage of COVID-19 vaccinations (at 35% for at least one dose) compared to other age groups in Buncombe County.
A recent CDC study found that children who are unvaccinated are hospitalized for COVID-19 illness two times more frequently than vaccinated children. Nineteen percent of the hospitalizations included being in the intensive care unit. Researchers looked at hospitalizations in 14 states among children ages 5 to 11 during the omicron wave from December to February, according to a report published last week in the agency’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates up to 1.5% of all child COVID-19 cases result in hospitalization.
Children with other health problems like diabetes and obesity were more likely to experience severe COVID-19. Researchers found significant health disparities in hospital admissions, particularly amongst Non-Hispanic Black children. This group has higher rates of obesity and diabetes which may play a role.
The risk of vaccine has been shown to be much less than the risk of the disease although health experts say one of the main reasons parents haven’t vaccinated their children is because they don’t feel they need it. A CDC study published in March shows the vaccine is safe in children 5 to 11. They reported no serious adverse events and only mild side effects such as fatigue, headache and fever out of 8 million doses given.
Dr. Andrea Berry, a pediatric infectious disease physician at the University of Maryland Medical Center said, “The risk of COVID is still significant and so far, the risk of the vaccine is tiny.”
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Contact: Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org