Georgia school children lag behind other states in COVID19 vaccination

New numbers reveal Georgia is woefully behind most other states in vaccinating children against the coronavirus.
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 5:47 PM EDT
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SMYRNA, Ga. (CBS46) - New numbers reveal Georgia is woefully behind most other states in vaccinating children against the coronavirus.

With school beginning across the state, doctors are encouraging parents to talk to their pediatricians to learn more about the vaccine and its safety.

12-year-old Sawyer Kelly and his dad Jim were enjoying one final father-son day on Friday before school starts next week. On the agenda is lunch at their favorite burger joint.

“I really want to know all the new teachers. I’m really excited to see my friends. I haven’t seen them in a long time,” said Sawyer Kelly, who’s heading into 7th grade next week.

Unlike last year, for the first time all kids in every grade level are eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19. But according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, based on CDC data from July 27th of this year, Georgia is lagging other states in COVID vaccinations for kids. Only about 23 percent of 5- to 11-year-olds are vaccinated against COVID. That number is closer to 40 percent nationally.

“We do better with our preteens and teenagers as we get up to the 12- to 17-year-old age group, we’re up closer to the high 50 percent, but we really need to be up much, much higher as we see the schools opening again,” said Dr. Jayne Morgan of Piedmont Health Care.

Jim Kelly, Sawyer’s dad, says his son is vaccinated. He says most of his son’s classmates last year got the jab. But with the new, more contagious BA.5 variant of COVID-19 making the rounds, the thought of some of his son’s peers being unvaccinated worries him. He doesn’t want a repeat of the last two years.

“The contact tracing that they did they would email us and say hey somebody in your class has been identified and then even if your child is fine, you’re out of school for a week. I’m hoping they don’t do that again,” said Jim Kelly.

Currently, the vaccine for kids is allowed under emergency use authorization by the FDA. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get the shot. Dr. Morgan from Piedmont Health Care says the vaccine is safe for kids.

“This particular vaccine has been well tested and data from adults is extrapolated and added to the data that we then receive from children,” said Dr. Morgan.