Low vaccination rate among children in Florida concerns some pediatricians


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

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

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

“Certainly it’s not as good as I had hoped it would be,” said Dr. Candice Jones, a pediatrician in Orlando. “I am seeing more hesitancy from parents for their children in this age group and what’s reflected is that we are not seeing many kids in our practice getting [the vaccine].”

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

“We already see omicron slowly trickling into our nation, and after holiday travel and get-togethers and everything, there’s already been another predicted surge,” Jones said.

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

“I want to make sure that I’m not infecting [my children] because I’ve been vaccinated and they’re not spreading any virus to any of their classmates,” said Camille Tavares, parent of 7-year-olds.

Seminole County will host several vaccine clinics this week open to anyone eligible.

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

Orange County Public Schools said the turnout at its vaccination clinics has increased since the first round. More than 6,000 doses were given within the last week.

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