Low COVID-19 vaccination rates persist among Georgia children

As of Aug. 10, 23% of children aged 5-11 have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose in Georgia, though 17.9 million of this group nationwide remain unvaccinated. (Hannah Beier/Reuters)

On this edition of “Closer Look,” Dr. Andi Shane, Emory University chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and medical director of infectious diseases at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, discusses the importance of widespread COVID-19 vaccination among young children.

As of Aug. 10 — about seven weeks following the U.S. approval of vaccination for children aged six months to four years old — only 6% of the group were vaccinated, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Shane attributes low vaccination numbers among young children in part to mixed messages from media and inflated perceived risk by the public.

Vaccination presents minimal adverse effects to its recipients and is extremely effective at preventing hospitalization in children for COVID-19 infection. Shane cited a “tremendous number of efforts” to promote vaccine availability, such as vaccine drives and back-to-school outreach, as valuable outreach efforts within the city.

As of Aug. 10, 23% of children aged 5-11 have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose in Georgia, though 17.9 million of this group nationwide remain unvaccinated. This age range presents heightened urgency in vaccination due to the close-contact nature of school environments. Dr. Shane is optimistic that young children will get continue to get vaccinated within the country if the positive aspects of the vaccines are amplified.

“I think parents really want to do the right thing, but sometimes the right thing is not always clear,” Dr. Shane said. “We really are trying to work very hard to make sure that parents receive the right messaging.”