Home Data analyses Kids’ Covid Vaccinations Plummet as U.S. Considers Shots for Younger Children

Kids’ Covid Vaccinations Plummet as U.S. Considers Shots for Younger Children

Kids’ Covid Vaccinations Plummet as U.S. Considers Shots for Younger Children

By Jonathan Levin

Covid-19 vaccinations among children ages 5-11 have fallen to the lowest levels since the shots were first approved, a sign that parental enthusiasm for the shots may be running low even as authorities consider expanding the shots to even younger children.

The seven-day average of first doses fell to about 37,062 on Jan. 28, marking the slowest one-week period since the government approved the vaccines for those children on Nov. 2, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Just 31% of kids 5-11 have gotten a shot, compared with 75% of the total population.

Parents Skip Vaccine


First doses among kids 5-11 have plummeted to lowest since Novemberhttps://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/9ca7e50af0f6c68fa6d36a2d28965cfa.html?brand=politics&webTheme=politics&web=true&hideTitles=true

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data

Note: Last five days excluded because recent data may be incomplete

First doses are declining among all age groups, but in most, that’s because so many people have already had one. For children — and young ones in particular — there’s clearly an enthusiasm gap, as parents weigh data showing that the virus itself is generally much less severe for them.

Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE have started to submit data to U.S. regulators as they seek approval for vaccines in kids 6 months through 4 years old. In December, the companies published data showing mixed effectiveness from two doses of the vaccine in younger kids. The companies said then that they would study a third dose and that if successful, they would seek a U.S. emergency authorization in the first half of 2022.

Either way, the younger the kids are, the less inclined parents seem to be to rush out for shots. Comparing uptake from the day the vaccines were first made available for each group, the 5-11 cohort has been much slower to get the shots than kids 12-15, who were approved May 12.

Slower Start

Percentage of population with one dose is lower among younger kids

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data

Note: X-axis shows days since vaccines were cleared for use in each cohort, so May 12 for those 12-15 and Nov. 2 for 5-11

To be sure, the data from older kids show the first 90 days doesn’t necessarily determine the success of the vaccination campaign. Inoculations in that group re-accelerated about 100 days after vaccine clearance, with the start of school and the onset of the colder-weather wave. But with the school year now in full swing and omicron receding, it’s not clear that the same factors will come into play with the younger kids.

With adults, the story is different. According to a Jan. 11-23 survey of 1,536 adults for KFF Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor, the U.S. is very close to reaching maximum vaccine penetration, short of some dramatic change of heart among the hesitant or a major policy change. The latter would seem near impossible after the Supreme Court last month blocked President Joe Biden’s effort to instate a vaccine-or-test rule for large companies.

The lion’s share of adults who want one have gotten at least their first shot. The KFF survey shows that among those who shun vaccines, 14% will never get one, 3% will do so only if required to for work or school and 4% will wait and see. 

Over time, the survey has suggested that many of the wait-and-see respondents eventually got the shot. But the “definitely not” and “only if required” groups have hardly budged since March 2021.

Vaccines have proved highly effective and blunted severe outcomes from Covid-19 in the U.S. In December, age-adjusted data show that unvaccinated adults were 16 times more likely to be hospitalized than people with at least two shots. Likewise, hospitalization rates were eight times higher for unvaccinated adolescents ages 12-17 versus their fully vaccinated peers. Data were not available for younger kids.

Safer With Vaccine

Source: Covid-Net via CDC

Note: CDC Covid-Net data is based on surveillance of adults 18 and older in a network of 250 hospitals in 14 states