Stories seem to appear daily about the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. The numbers are trending down in the United States along with deaths and hospitalizations. But COVID will persist if people remain unvaccinated.
One group that is vaccinated at a much lower rate than the general public is children. While more than 81% of Californians have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, less than 36% of children 5 to 11 in the state have at least one dose. Less than 24% have been fully vaccinated compared to 70% of all California residents.
The omicron variant and any that may follow put the unvaccinated at greater risk of hospitalizations, long-lasting complications, or even death.
Everyone over the age of 18 has been eligible for more than a year to get full dosages of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and J&J/Janssen vaccines, as well as boosters of the Pfizer and Moderna. Children ages 12 to 17 became eligible in the spring to get two doses and a booster of the Pfizer vaccine. Children ages 5 to 11 can get both doses of Pfizer, but a booster dose has yet to be approved.
There are approximately 28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 in the U.S., and there have been nearly 2 million cases of COVID-19 in this age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can lead to hospitalization for kids and in some situations, complications can lead to death.
More than 800 children have died from COVID-19 during the two years of the pandemic. That’s four times more than the 200 children who died from the flu during that same period. COVID-19 ranks as one of the top 10 causes of death in children 5 to 11.
COVID-19 has also led to a new, potentially deadly condition.
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)
This is a condition where different body parts — brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, lungs, gastrointestinal organs, skin — become inflamed. Doctors don’t know what causes it. However, most children with MIS-C either had COVID-19 or have been around someone with COVID-19.
Symptoms include at least two of the following:
- Fever lasting 24 hours or longer
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Fast heartbeat
- Feeling unusually tired
- Headache or dizziness
- Rapid breathing/li>
- Red eyes
- Skin rash
- Stomach pain
- Swelling or redness of the hands or feet
- Swelling or redness of the lips and tongue
Parents need to take their children to the emergency room if their children:
- Are confused
- Can’t wake up or stay awake
- Have difficulty breathing
- Have pale, gray, or blue skin, lips, or nail beds
- Have severe stomach pains
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination protects 12 to 18-year-olds against MIS-C. The likelihood of contracting the condition were decreased by 91% in people that were vaccinated. Of those who were hospitalized with MIS-C, 95% were unvaccinated. The few vaccinated patients who were hospitalized did not need life support equipment.
Disparity Among the Vaccinated
COVID-19 has hit poor, minority populations the hardest due to working in service sector jobs deemed “essential” and jobs that can’t be done from home. Vaccination rates in those communities is also lower, for everyone, including children.
Only 21% of children in California’s poorest neighborhoods are vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to 64% in the wealthiest neighborhoods. This is often due to a lack of transportation limiting the ability to make it to vaccination events. Some don’t realize the vaccinations are free, or they think they must have insurance to get vaccinated. They also may not have access to the same information sources to learn about vaccination events.
We Are Your Source for Vaccine Info
Rely on AltaMed as a trusted source for information about the COVID-19 vaccines. We have a site with information on testing, vaccine safety, facts, and frequently asked questions. We can even schedule an appointment for a free vaccination for you or any member of your family, including children over 5.
Call (888) 499-9303 to schedule your appointment today.