With the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in the midst of approving a COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12-15, the first group of children may qualify for what could be an important next phase. in the U.S. vaccination effort. While children are less likely to experience severe COVID-19 disease compared to adults, a small subset can improve severe illness leading to hospitalization and even death; the risk of serious illness is much higher among Black and Hispanic youth compared to their White counterparts. In addition, because children can transmit others, vaccinating children under the age of 16 may be essential for achieving a sufficient level of population resilience to prevent pandemic. This is particularly the case given that the U.S. seems to have come up with a COVID-19 vaccine ”tipping point”Among adults – that is, the point at which the supply lasts in demand, making it even more difficult to increase vaccine coverage. Vaccinating children could also speed up the reopening of schools, which, in turn, would improve parents ’ability to return to work.
We analyzed the size and composition of youth ages 12 to 15 nationwide using data from the 2019 American Community Survey to help inform vaccination efforts to reach this population. We found:
- There are nearly 17 million young people, ages 12-15, in the United States. Youth make up 5.3% of the U.S. population and 26.6% of the U.S. population under the age of 16. The proportion of youth varies by state. This ranged from a short 3.4% in DC to 6.6% in Utah.
- Nearly half of young people aged 12–15 were people of color, including one in four Hispanic, 13.4% Black, and 4.8% Asian (Figure 1). Some states have a much more diverse population of teenagers. For example, more than six out of ten (61.4%) youth ages 12-15 in DC are Black, and more than three out of ten youth are Black in many other southern states, including Mississippi (41.7%), Louisiana (36.8%), Georgia (32.5%), Maryland (31.4%), and South Carolina (30.8%). The Western and Southern states include the highest proportion of Hispanic adolescents. For example, at least half of teens in New Mexico (62.2%), California (52.4%), and Texas (50.1%) are Hispanic.
- More than a third (36.2%) of young people live in a family with an income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), including 15.4% below poverty and 20.8% among 100 -200% FPL (Figure 2). An additional 30.2% live between 200-400% FPL and 33.6% over 400% FPL. This income distribution varies by state For example, the proportion of young people living in a low-income family (below 200% FPL) ranges from low 21.3% in Hawaii to high. of 49.2% in Mississippi. In 12 states, including Mississippi, the share of youth living below 200% FPL is more than 40%; 10 of these states are in the South. In 5 states, more than 20% of young people live below the poverty line, 4 of them in the South.
If the FDA authorizes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends COVID-19 vaccination for a 12-year-old child, it would represent an important first step in reaching children in most of the U.S. and increasing population resistance, growth will rely on reach efforts and fair and expeditious distribution strategies.
Reaching young people is likely to take time, attendance, and effective communication to let pediatricians, parents and young people know about vaccines as well as strategies to reduce barriers to immunization. -access. Parents in particular have an important role to play in the success of these efforts, as we most recent survey found that 41% of parents of children aged 12-15 said they would never vaccinate their children or would only do so if necessary at school. These behaviors can change once a vaccine is approved for teens and they start receiving it, just as adults do. Prioritizing justice and reducing barriers to access that unequally affect people of color and those with low incomes may be even more important for reaching adolescents given their diversity. population and the Black and Hispanic people facing vaccination gaps until now.
The administration explained that, in addition to the existing COVID-19 vaccine delivery channels, vaccines will be delivered directly. pediatricians to vaccinate their patients. That shows data from before the pandemic the majority (96%) of children have a regular source of health care. However, analysis since the onset of the pandemic has found a reduction in the use of frequent and preventive care in children, including reducing vaccination rates. This likely indicates parents delaying care because of concerns about potential coronavirus exposure or because of the cost if they experience adverse financial effects from the pandemic. Because the vaccine is available for free regardless of insurance status, cost should not be a barrier to getting the vaccine. However, reaching out to parents to explain that the vaccine is free is important. Schools can also play an important role, including serving as vaccination areas for children and their families.
The success of achieving this kooh has significant implications overall, for both the future effort to vaccinate even children and for the overall effort to vaccinate more people in US as much as possible.