Almost 1 million children ages 5 to 11 have received their first COVID-19 shot within the first week of eligibility, the Biden administration announced last week.
But the rollout of COVID-19 shots for elementary-age children has exposed another blind spot in the nation’s efforts to address pandemic inequalities: Health systems have released little data on the racial breakdown of youth vaccinations, and community leaders fear that Black and Latino kids are falling behind.
Only a handful of states have made public data on COVID-19 vaccinations by race and age, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not compile racial breakdowns either.
Public health leaders believe racial gaps are driven by work and transportation barriers, as well as lingering reluctance and information gaps. Parents without reliable transportation will have a harder time getting their children to and from appointments. Those without flexible work schedules or paid family leave may delay vaccinating their kids, and parents who do not speak English as a first language may not have access to information they need.
In the few places that do report child COVID-19 vaccines by race, the breakdowns vary.
In Michigan, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., white children got vaccinated at much higher rates than their Black counterparts. But in New York City, white children between 13 and 17 are vaccinated at lower rates than Black, Latino and Asian kids.
In Connecticut, vaccination rates for 12- to 17-year-olds in many wealthy, predominantly white towns exceed 80%.
In Hartford, Connecticut, 39% of children between 12 and 17 are fully vaccinated. Across the city line in the suburb of West Hartford, 88% of children the same age are fully vaccinated, according to state data updated in November.
The White House has made health equity a top priority, and its coronavirus task force said last week that the country has closed the racial gap among the overall population of 194 million people who are fully vaccinated. The Biden administration also said it is spending nearly $800 million to support organizations that seek to broaden vaccine confidence among communities of color and low-income Americans.
Also in the news:
► Maine set a record high for the number of people in a hospital due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
► New York state is expanding COVID booster eligibility to those who “feel at risk.”
► A Houston hospital has temporarily suspended a doctor for spreading false information about COVID-19 to her patients and on social media.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 764,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 253 million cases and 5.1 million deaths. More than 195 million Americans — 58.8% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: As doctors’ offices and pharmacies fill appointments fill to immunize children, parents across the country are looking forward to the freedoms their kids can enjoy after getting their shot. But the question of masking — especially in schools — still remains.
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A Palm Beach County teacher at the center of a battle to get a hospital to administer an unproven drug for her worsening COVID-19 symptoms has died from the illness.
Tamara Drock, 47, of Loxahatchee, Florida, died from complications of COVID on Friday, 12 weeks after being admitted to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center for treatment, her husband said.
As she struggled with the disease, her husband, Ryan Drock, sued the hospital last month in an attempt to require it to administer ivermectin, a drug approved to treat conditions caused by parasitic worms but not COVID.
The closely watched case became one of several across the country that sought to compel hospitals to administer the drug, which has gained popularity in conservative circles as a potential treatment for serious cases of the illness.
The drug, though, isn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat it. The federal agency says it hasn’t proved effective against COVID-19 in pre-clinical trials.
— Andrew Marra, Palm Beach Post
Contributing: The Associated Press