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Delaware is pushing for more children to get COVID vaccinations

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

COVID cases are rising in Delaware - including among kids between the ages of 5 and 17.

Since October that age group has had about 4,000 cases after 1,000 cases were reported per week during a three-week span in September. Since the end of June there have been about 14,000 total cases in this age group.

The 5-to-11 age group has seen the highest case rates since August, while the 12-to-17 age range is a close second.

That is significant as the older age group has been eligible for vaccines that entire time, while the younger group only became eligible November 3.

And even with children 5-to-11 now eligible, Div of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay says Delaware is lagging behind in getting those children vaccinated.

"Approximately 16% of our 5-to-11 year olds are vaccinated, and in fact this makes Delaware in the lower half of states in terms of vaccination rates for the 5-to-11 age group," said Rattay. "In general, we tend to do really well for pediatric vaccinations so this is a real disappointment to us."

Rattay says misinformation is hindering efforts to get people - including kids - vaccinated.

She emphasizes that studies show the vaccine to be safe for children.

"Clinical trials found it to be more than 90% protective in this younger age group against the virus. There's no lasting side effects," Rattay noted. "Since the vaccine was authorized almost 5 million children in this age group have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and there have been no serious side effects like myocarditis identified."

She points out one benefit of children being fully vaccinated is they do not have to quarantine after exposure to other kids with COVID-19 as a close contact.

Rattay adds the vaccine does not affect children’s fertility.

She says parents with questions can go to the state’s website to learn about the vaccine, or they can contact their pediatrician.

Delaware is pushing for more people and children to get vaccinated to fight off the delta and omicron variants of the virus.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.