Low vaccination rate among children in Florida concerns some pediatricians

ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) — Less than 10 percent of children between the ages of five and 11 in Florida have been vaccinated, according to the latest COVID-19 data from the state.

An estimated 1.6 million children live in that age group in the Sunshine State.

Data released by the Department of Health on Dec. 3 shows that 9 percent, or 158,017 of 5 to 11-year-old children, have been vaccinated.

“It’s definitely not as good as I’d hoped,” says Dr. Candice Jones, a pediatrician in Orlando. “I see more hesitation from parents for their children in this age group and what is reflected is that we don’t see many children getting into our practice [the vaccine].”

The vaccine became available to children in early November after the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was safe.

“We’re already seeing ommicron slowly trickling into our country, and after vacation trips and gatherings and the like, there’s already a predicted increase,” Jones said.

A vaccination event held on Monday, December 6 at the Sanford Civic Center in Seminole County was open to anyone who qualified for a vaccine, but most of the people who showed up were parents with their children between the ages of 5 and 11 .

“I want to make sure I don’t infect” [my children] because I’m vaccinated and they don’t spread the virus to their classmates,” said Camille Tavares, parent of 7-year-olds.

Seminole County is hosting several vaccine clinics this week that are open to anyone who qualifies.

“We are here for today [my daughter’s] second vaccine dose,” said Sumit Upadhyaya, parent of an 8-year-old, at the Sanford Civic Center vaccination event.

Orange County Public Schools said attendance at vaccine clinics has increased since the first round. More than 6,000 doses have been given in the past week.

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