Campaign aims to get more kids 5 to 11 immunized for Covid-19

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

A new public-service campaign aimed at getting more of Kentucky’s young children vaccinated against the coronavirus places a strong focus on getting parents to talk to their doctor or pediatrician about it.

“Parents trust their own pediatrician and their own family physician,” Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said at an online news conference. “They want a personalized recommendation about whether their child ought to get the Covid-19 vaccine or not.”

One of the biggest generators of vaccine hesitancy has been misinformation, so “Being able to get the facts from a trusted adviser, and that trusted adviser, being the pediatrician is really what we’re striving to do,” said Leon Lamoreaux, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky, which launched the campaign with the foundation.
The campaign, called High Five for Health, was designed to address concerns voiced by parents in focus groups, where a topic is discussed to get ideas for messages about it. The campaign provides answers to frequently asked questions and offers five steps for parents to consider when getting their child vaccinated.
The five-step action plan calls on parents to talk with their pediatrician or family doctor, to talk with their child, to schedule the vaccine appointment; to prepare a vaccine-ready kit that includes fluids and a non-aspirin pain reliever; and finally, to get your child vaccinated.

“This is the winter break, and this is a great time to get the jab while maybe some of the required activities are not happening,” Chandler said.
He said people in the focus groups pointed out that parents need to be able to fit a child’s vaccine appointment into their busy schedules, and at a time that allows for dealing with possible side effects, including pain, redness and swelling at the injection site or tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills fever or nausea.
Parents also wanted the process to be easy, and wanted assurance that a record of the vaccine would be included in their child’s medical records, especially if they got the vaccine from someone other than their primary care provider. Chandler said all vaccination records are sent to the state immunization registry, “so no matter where you get the Covid-19 vaccine, your doctor will be able to access your child’s records.”
At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 is the only vaccine approved for children 5 to 11. It is one-third of the adult dose, comes in an orange-capped vial and is delivered with a smaller needle, designed specifically for children. The vaccine requires two doses, three weeks apart. To find a location near you that offers this vaccine, go to
So far, only 14% of Kentucky’s children from 5 to 11 have received at lease one dose of a vaccine and just 7% have been fully vaccinated.
State health department data shows that 21% percent of all Covid-19 cases in Kentucky have been in people 18 and younger, and 7.2% have been in children younger than 9. Ten Kentuckians under 19 have died from Covid-19; two of them were younger than 9.
Lamoreaux said Anthem is offering incentives to its providers who encourage the vaccine and to patients who get the Covid-19 vaccine. So are “multiple” other managed care organizations, according to the Kentucky Association of Health Plans.

“Vaccines are proven safe, and a highly effective way to protect our kids and the entirety of the commonwealth,” Lamoreaux said. “We believe that this public service campaign will help to reinforce that critical message to parents and families.”

Chandler acknowledged that some parents aren’t rushing to get their children vaccinated because children don’t get sick as often as adults, and if they do, most have mild or no symptoms. However, he said it’s important to get them vaccinated because they can spread  the virus to those more vulnerable to severe illness and death.
“It’s important to talk with parents about creating a wall of immunity around people that you love, around your family, your friends, your community — basically around those who for one reason or another cannot get vaccinated or who are especially vulnerable,” Chandler said.
Some vaccine-reluctant people say they fear side effects from vaccination, but Chandler said parents need to know that the possible effects of the virus are much worse than any possible side effect from the vaccine, especially if a child has asthma, diabetes or other vulnerabilities.
The campaign’s public-service announcement does not mention childhood obesity as a vulnerability, even though obese children have a greater chance of more severe Covid-19 disease, hospitalization and even death. Kentucky leads the nation in childhood obesity.
The High Five for Health campaign is a multi-faceted education and awareness effort that includes animated videos, social media graphics, message points and materials for use in doctors’ office, youth organizations and various other organizations. Download the toolkit here.
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