Who’s failing to follow through with COVID-19 booster shots

The push to make COVID-19 vaccinations available across all racial and ethnic communities appears to be working — but booster shots could use a boost among some groups, according to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have been able to have equal vaccination rates for our primary series for our adults,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, referring to the two-dose regimen of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“We have the same rates of primary series in our white communities as our Black communities as our Hispanic and Latino communities,” she said.

Lagging behind are rates of boosters among minorities and primary vaccinations for children.

“We still see this discrepancy in percent of our population that are boosted and are vaccinated among our young,” Walensky said Thursday during a forum hosted by the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project.

Overall, 64.2% of Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But only 22% of children ages 5 to 11 have had both shots. Among children 12 to 17 years old, 56% are fully vaccinated.

Kids tend to have milder cases of COVID-19, but another forum participant noted that they still are vulnerable.

“With each of these [COVID-19 variant] surges, we’ve seen substantial increases in hospitalizations among children, and even deaths among children in this vulnerable age group,” said Dr. Sara Oliver, a medical officer in the Division of Viral Diseases at the National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. “So there continue to be considerable numbers of children that are impacted by COVID.”

But Oliver stressed that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for all age groups and severe cases can be prevented by vaccination.

Oliver leads the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) COVID-19 vaccine work group, a federal advisory committee comprised of more than 50 external experts in infectious diseases and vaccines.

“The impact of COVID on children is not just measured in hospitalizations or in ICU admissions. It’s missed days of school, the sports, the disruption to daily life,” she said.

“And so this, yet again, is a factor in the consideration for COVID vaccines and continues to be another reason why the current recommendations are for all children 5 years of age and over to receive a COVID vaccine.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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