3,200 young Michiganders rushed to get COVID vaccine in first days of eligibility

This article appeared in MLive. Read more here.

More than 3,200 children ages 4 and younger got their first shot of COVID vaccine across Michigan within their first 10 days of eligibility.

As of Monday, June 27, at least 3,222 kids in the newly eligible age group had begun their recommended regimen, according to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services data updated Wednesday, June 29. State health officials did note the number could be higher due to reporting lags.

The count represents less than 1% of the more than 500,000 children age 6 months to 4 years old, who became eligible for COVID vaccination on Saturday, June 18.

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID vaccines are now available to infants and young children under emergency use authorization. Each mRNA vaccine received authorization following clinical trials and data review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and various independent advisory groups.

In Michigan, the younger than 5 population made up about 44% of the more than 7,000 first-dose shots administered between June 18 and June 27. Another 10% of the initial doses given during that span went to children ages 5 to 11, who were previously eligible but whose parents had held off getting them vaccinated.

Children were largely split between the two vaccines, with at least 1,778 receiving a Moderna shot, and at least 1,336 receiving a Pfizer shot. Health officials recommend two doses of the Moderna vaccine given 28 days apart, or three doses of the Pfizer shot, with the first two given three weeks apart and the third dose administered at least eight weeks later.

“Being able to vaccinate children ages 6 months and up with safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a significant milestone that brings us hope and protects our littlest Michiganders,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive, in a prepared statement.

“These vaccines are incredibly effective in preventing severe illness, disease and hospitalizations. Even healthy children can suffer serious affects from COVID-19, not just those with underlying conditions. We recommend parents and guardians talk to their child’s medical provider or their local health department about the pediatric vaccine and how it offers protection.”

The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 isn’t as high in children as it is in older individuals, however at least 442 children age 4 or younger have died from COVID, according to national data from the CDC.

Thus, the state health department recommends COVID vaccination for all eligible children, even if they previously had the disease. Kids can receive the vaccine from a primary care provider, local health department, or federally qualified health center. Some pharmacies will vaccinate children 3 and older.

Throughout the state, about 66.4% of residents 5 and older have gotten at least a first dose of COVID vaccine, and 61.1% have concluded their initial dosage. Less than 35% of residents have gotten a booster dose.

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You’ve got questions. That’s a good thing.

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