Aug. 4—As COVID-19 vaccinations among young Ohio children remain low, area doctors are encouraging parents to get vaccinations for their kids as they get ready to go back to school.
Vaccinations for children six months old to four years old weren't available until June, and the percentage of children in that age group who have received at least one dose of the vaccine remains low at approximately 3.49%, Ohio Department of Health data examined by the Dayton Daily News shows. That equals to approximately 24,000 children out of 690,800 in the state.
"We're recommending that everybody keep up to date (with their COVID-19 vaccines)," said Dan Suffoletto, public information manager for Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County.
For children in Ohio between the ages of five and 11, approximately 24.07% of those children are vaccinated, and for youth between the ages of 12 and 17, approximately 46.05% are also vaccinated.
In Montgomery and surrounding counties, those percentages vary. In the five to 11 year old age group, counties like Darke and Preble represent the lowest percentages of vaccinated children with 4.62% and 6.12%, respectively.
"We host vaccine clinics every week," said Emily Hoisington, director of Nursing at the Darke County Health District. Individuals seeking COVID-19 vaccinations can visit the clinic from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesdays on a walk-in basis. The health district is also offering $100 gift cards to individuals receiving their first dose of the COVID vaccine.
The Darke County Health District also provides other vaccinations on Tuesdays from 8-10:30 a.m. and 2-5 p.m., also on a walk-in basis.
The county is still seeing hesitancy when it comes to vaccinations, and Hoisington said vaccination rates for other illnesses tend to be lower if they are not required for school.
Preble County is similarly seeing a trend of hesitancy toward vaccinations, and Preble County Public Health continues to encourage vaccines through social media campaigns and other outreach to provide residents with information.
"We just try to give them the most factual information we can," said Chris Maggard, director of Nursing at Preble County Public Health.
Preble County Public Health also offers weekly vaccination clinics on Thursdays, and residents can sign up for appointments at www.vaccinatepreble.com.
Montgomery County falls in the middle with 20.63% vaccinated in the five to 11 year old age group. Greene County has a vaccination rate of 25.92% in that age group, and Warren County is also on the higher end with a vaccination rate of 35.27%.
No local school districts are requiring the COVID vaccines as kids head back to class. The Montgomery County Educational Service Center (ESC) said county school districts are continuing to the monitor the situation.
"We want schools and parents to make their own well informed decisions based on the most up to date information," said Guy Fogle, ESC communications coordinator.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and ODH are recommending COVID-19 vaccines for infants, children, and teens. Both Moderna and Pfizer offer vaccines at lower doses for children in different age groups.
Even if most COVID cases are minor, ODH says kids of any age can still get sick and sometimes need hospital treatment. There is no way to tell in advance how the virus might impact children, although children with underlying conditions are more likely to experience a severe illness from COVID-19.
ODH also addressed concerns of myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle and can reduce the heart's ability to pump and can cause rapid or abnormal heart rhythms. ODH said rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis, which is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart, have been reported kids and young adults after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, particularly in boys and men between the ages of 12 and 39.
The risk of myocarditis can be reduced with longer intervals between the first and second doses of the vaccinations, ODH said. The risks of getting myocarditis and pericarditis are also much more common from getting COVID-19 itself, and the risks the virus poses to the heart can be more severe. Most people who experienced myocarditis following a vaccination recovered on their own.