Kentucky’s child-vaccination rates are sixth worst in the nation

By Melissa Patrick

Kentucky Health News
When it comes to influenza and Covid-19 vaccinations, Kentucky’s children are less protected than children in other states.

Kentucky’s children have the sixth lowest rate of vaccination against Covid-19 and influenza, with only 38% having received a Covid-19 vaccine and only 35% having a flu shot. That’s much lower than the national rates of 57% and 55% respectively, according to a Quote Wizard report.

Dr. Sean McTigue, medical director for pediatric infection and control at UK HealthCare, said in an e-mail that while most cases of Covid-19 and flu in children are mild to moderate and can be managed at home, they do see young patients who experience serious complications from these respiratory illnesses.

“The best way to prevent serious illness from these viruses is through vaccinations,” McTigue said. “This year’s flu vaccine is a very good match with the predominantly circulating strain of influenza, which makes it very effective. Additionally, the current Covid-19 bivalent booster is still showing good efficacy against the Omicron variant and its subvariants, which are currently the strains in wide circulation.”

The report adds that when people aren’t vaccinated, it exposed those around them to additional risks, especially those with underlying conditions.
Researchers found that older children are more likely to be vaccinated than younger children. This certainly held true in Kentucky, where 25% of its 5-12-year-old population and 50% of its 12-to-17-year-old population are vaccinated.

State reports break the Covid-19 vaccination numbers down a bit differently, but also show that older children are more likely to be vaccinated in Kentucky. The data shows only 5% of children under 4 have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine; 25% of children 5-11; 50% of children 12-15; and 54% of children 16-17.

Quote Wizard used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics to determine the vaccine rates in each state. Data were compiled in the last week of December 2022.

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