More than 4,200 children under the age of 5 in Wisconsin have gotten an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine since it was approved for babies older than 6 months and young children on June 18, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
That makes up a little over 1% of the children under 5 in the state, according to Census figures. If you don't count the children under 6 months old — who are not eligible for the vaccine — the percentage is higher, though it is unclear by how much.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services said officials were still evaluating population totals for children in that age range to ensure any percentages reported were accurate and do not include children under 6 months old in that calculation.
City of Greenfield Health Director Darren Rausch said it was an "exciting development" to finally have a vaccine for every age group.
"Now we can vaccinate from 6 months and up, and we can really do our best to build immunity throughout the community," he said.
COVID vaccine for young children: Wisconsin health officials recommend children 6 months and older get vaccinated against COVID-19
Although young children have largely been spared the worst of COVID-19, they can become seriously ill. Nationwide, 20,000 children under 5 have been hospitalized with the disease. More than 200 have died, about half of whom did not have any underlying medical conditions, according to data presented by the Food and Drug Administration.
“There is no way to predict if a child will develop a severe or mild case of COVID-19,” said DHS spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt in an email. “Even healthy children without underlying medical conditions can get severe COVID-19 or suffer from long-term health complications.”
Some surveys have signaled that health care officials will have a difficult time convincing many parents to get their young children vaccinated. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found only about a fifth of parents with children under 5 wanted to get their children vaccinated right away.
"That's a really low percentage," said Nick Tomaro, emergency preparedness environmental health director for the Milwaukee Health Department. "To me, it just speaks to the work we have to do. ... We have to be out in the community as much as possible and to have these conversations."
The survey also found about a quarter of parents with kids under 5 said they would definitely not get them vaccinated. About four in 10 parents said they would wait and see.
Tomaro said mobile vaccination teams with the city health department would soon begin a campaign at day-care centers. The city has been coordinating with day cares to set up times, usually during pick-up, when teams of public health nurses can visit, talk to families about the vaccine, and offer them the shot, he said.
The vaccine, both the Pfizer and the Moderna versions, is free and is available at pediatricians' offices, at clinics, at any of the city's walk-in community clinics, including the Northwest Health Center and Southside Health Center, and at other locations.
Track COVID and the vaccine in Wisconsin: See the latest data on cases, deaths and administered doses
Latest COVID-19 numbers
New cases reported (Friday): 1,589
New deaths reported (Friday), confirmed: 6
New deaths reported (Friday), probable: 4
New deaths reported (this week), confirmed: 24
New deaths reported (this week), probable: 16
Number hospitalized: 374 (intensive care: 56); down 17 patients from a month ago
Seven-day average of daily cases: 1,377 (down 245 cases from one month ago)
Seven-day average of confirmed daily deaths: 3 (even from a month ago)
Seven-day average of new deaths reported within 30 days of death: 3 (even from a month ago)
Seven-day average positivity rate: 11.9% of all COVID-19 tests given
Total cases since the start of pandemic: 1,521,172
Total confirmed deaths: 13,141
Total probable deaths: 1,666
Latest vaccine numbers
Total doses administered: 9,575,881
Daily doses administered: 997
Seven-day average of daily doses: 1,142
Total booster doses administered: 2,063,082
Daily booster doses administered: 493
Seven-day average of daily booster doses: 557
Residents who have received one dose: 3,765,729 (64.6% of the population)
Residents who are fully vaccinated: 3,580,925 (61.4% of the population)
Residents who have received a booster dose: 2,036,059 (34.8% of the population)
Residents ages 5 to 11 with at least one dose: 138,516 (28.4% of age group)
Residents ages 12 to 17 with at least one dose: 276,177 (62.2% of age group)
Residents ages 18 to 24 with at least one dose: 331,586 (60.9% of age group)
Residents ages 25 to 34 with at least one dose: 479,525 (64.7% of age group)
Residents ages 35 to 44 with at least one dose: 502,298 (69.6% of age group)
Residents ages 45 to 54 with at least one dose: 502,469 (71.9% of age group)
Residents ages 55 to 64 with at least one dose: 641,622 (78.3% of age group)
Residents 65 and older with at least one dose: 893,536 (85.3% of age group)
Sarah Volpenhein is a Report for America corps reporter who focuses on news of value to underserved communities for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Email her at email@example.com. Please consider supporting journalism that informs our democracy with a tax-deductible gift to this reporting effort at JSOnline.com/RFA.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Over 4,000 Wisconsin kids under 5 get COVID vaccine in initial rollout