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Vaccinations underway in babies and young children, but childhood vaccination rates remain low

Doctors say parents' urgency in vaccination is needed, especially in kids where vaccination rates for COVID-19 have remained very low.

INDIANAPOLIS — In the weeks after the CDC and FDA's approval of COVID-19 vaccines for kids 6 months old and up, pediatricians' offices and doctors' offices around the country have been filling up with parents eager to get their children vaccinated.

Doctors say that urgency in vaccination is needed, especially in kids where vaccination rates for COVID-19 have remained very low.

Inside IU Health Physicians off Georgetown Road, Tuesday evening was filled with appointments as parents brought in their young children to get their shots.

One of those children was 3-year-old Hattie Seaborn, who looked over at her mom, Jessie, then the needle that went into her leg. It was over in a matter of seconds, with no tears out of the little girl.

"All done!" her mom said.

Hattie's parents, Jessie and Stefan Seaborn, were in awe of their daughter's courage.

"She was very brave," Stefan said.  

"Were you brave?" Jessie asked Hattie, giving her a quick hug. "I think we're really just excited to be able to have some protection for her."

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When the CDC and FDA approved vaccinations for kids 6 months and up in June, Jessie and Stefan quickly signed Hattie up. They said they wanted her to have protection from COVID-19 like the rest of the family. 

"There's always a level of concern just because the variants change and you know, that's why we keep up with this," Stefan said. 

Dr. Sarah Bosslet, director of primary care at Riley Children's Health, said seeing vaccinations now underway for this age group is a welcome change for many. 

“There’s a huge sense of relief because this group is our daycare-age families," Bosslet said. "And so all these parents who’ve been at work and are missing so much work and their kids are constantly out, daycares have been closed, finally this age group has access to vaccine which should help a lot of that issue."

Credit: WTHR

While there's been steady demand for vaccinations in young kids over the past few weeks, childhood vaccination rates overall in Indiana and nationwide are low.

“For COVID vaccination, it has still been low. And that varies by location. Certain areas in town, we’ve had tons of demand for vaccine, other parts of town not as much. But we are hoping that families, as they see the benefit and especially as we get into back-to-school season and more kids are around each other that we’ll see more demand for vaccine,” Bosslet said.

The state reports only 1 in 5 kids between ages 5 and 11 has been vaccinated. Nationally, it's about 1 in 3.

Bosslet said it's concerning to see rates so low, especially as people, including kids, continue to get sick from COVID-19. 

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“It’s just frustrating because we know and we’ve watched and we’re all exhausted. And we’ve seen all these families struggling, we’ve struggled in our own practice to make sure we have staff. And everybody has struggled through COVID and the only way this all gets better is if we all get vaccinated so we can decrease our rates overall," Bosslet said. "And there is a new wave of COVID strain coming through, so we’re seeing numbers go up again this month. And we will see more babies and more children in the hospital because of that. The only way to protect them against those effects is to get them vaccinated."

For the Seaborns, they say while COVID-19 is always a concern in the back of their minds, getting their youngest her first dose of vaccine brings another layer of safety for their family.

"It's kind of emotional to feel like she has some at least some protection now and we can help her be as safe as possible," Jessie said. 

There are multiple locations in Indianapolis for families to take their children to get vaccinated for COVID-19. For more information including how to book appointments, visit ourshot.in.gov.

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