Valley health officials urging parents to vaccinate kids against COVID-19

CDC data shows only about 3% of kids between the ages of 6 months and 5 years have received their first dose.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022
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Pediatric vaccination rates remain relatively low across Central California, while the BA.5 variant is spreading quickly.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In just a matter of weeks, school playgrounds will be busy and classrooms will be full of students again - but how many of them will be protected against COVID-19 when they return from summer break?

"With vaccines in general, not COVID, there's more of a fear and hesitancy among parents over getting vaccines," says Dr. Kenny Banh with UCSF Fresno.

Banh says all three of his children have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Now he's hoping more parents join the fight against the pandemic while the highly transmissible BA.5 variant is sweeping the nation and the Central Valley.

"Now we're seeing patients are coming with COVID, they're getting admitted, they're going to ICU again. We're heading towards that, not where we were in January and February yet but the numbers are increasing when we weren't seeing that initially, early in the wave," says Banh.

Last month the federal government authorized a vaccine for children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years but CDC data shows only about 3% of those kids have received their first dose.

"It does concern me that our vaccination numbers are low," Banh says.

Dr. Karen Dahl with Valley Children's Healthcare remains optimistic.

She believes timing for the vaccine has a lot to do with the low turnout so far.

"I would expect personally that we will see more vaccinations as the school year is coming up and getting ready to go back to school, but right now people are doing summertime stuff and vacations with family and traveling. I think it's hard to work it into our schedules," says Dr. Dahl.

Just as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends eligible children receive the vaccine, experts say contracting COVID-19 poses a far greater risk than the potential side effects of the shot.

Officials recommend making an appointment for vaccination with your pediatrician. You can also schedule a visit with Valley Children's or various local clinics.