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One month after the federal government authorized the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5, about 300,000 U.S. kids in that age group have received at least one dose of the vaccine, a Biden administration official said.
That amounts to about 1.5% of the 19.5 million children under 5 in the United States. By comparison, 78.4% of the total U.S. population has gotten at least one dose of vaccine since it was first authorized for adults in December 2020, according to the CDC.
The administration expected a slow acceptance of the vaccine for young children, the unnamed official told ABC News on Thursday.
“That number in and of itself is very much in line with our expectation, and we’re eager to continue working closely with partners to build on this start,” the official said.
Even before the vaccine was authorized for children under 5, parents told the Kaiser Family Foundation they wouldn’t be rushing to the pharmacy or doctor’s office for a vaccination.
Only 18% of parents surveyed said they’d vaccinate their kids as soon as the vaccine was available, while roughly 40% said they’d take a wait-and-see attitude, the foundation said. About 11% said they’d only have their child vaccinated if required, and 27% said they would never have their child vaccinated.
The official said the administration expects surges in child vaccinations tied to the school calendar.
“I think that it’s absolutely expected that once the school year starts, there will be unvaccinated children and vaccinated children,” the official said. “And I think that that’s going to be part of the dynamic that we’re working through.”
But each state — not the federal government — will decide whether vaccines are mandated for school attendance.
To encourage child vaccinations, the administration is working with the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit education group behind Sesame Street, to promote the COVID vaccine with a public service announcement featuring Elmo, ABC News reported.
ABC News: “About 300,000 kids under 5 have gotten at least 1 dose of COVID vaccine so far.”
CDC: “COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States.”
Kaiser Family Foundation: “COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: April 2022.”