June 25, 2024

Heal Me Healthy

The Trusted Source For Health

As Murphy moves to drop masks in NJ schools, most kids are unvaccinated

6 min read

In the three months since regulators approved a COVID vaccine for young children, Dr. Mike Cascarina and his colleagues at his Ocean County family practice have been trying with mixed results to convince parents about the benefits of getting the shots — as have doctors throughout the state.

Yes, it is rare for a healthy child to become severely ill from COVID — but it does happen and vaccines reduce that risk significantly, pediatric doctors tell resistant parents. Yes, the vaccinated can still transmit the virus — but vaccines can shorten the window for transmission, which helps prevent kids from infecting older, more susceptible people. And severe side effects from the vaccine are extremely rare.

Despite those arguments in favor of getting children vaccinated,  just over 1 of 4 New Jersey children are fully vaccinated against COVID three months into the campaign, according to data from the state Health Department. And only 1 out of 3 have received at least one shot.  

Matthew Carpenter, of Ramsey, comforts his daughter, Isabella, 6 as she receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine at PediatriCare Associates in Fair Lawn, N.J. on Friday Nov. 19, 2021. At left, Abigail, Isabella's twin also closes her eyes.

Even as the latest COVID wave is waning, pediatricians and public health officials have raised concern about the long-term implications of the low vaccination rate in New Jersey and elsewhere among 5- to 11-year-olds, especially if another variant emerges as deadly and contagious as the delta and omicron strains. 

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“It’s concerning but it’s not surprising,” Cascarina, president of the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians, said of the rates. “There is this large undercurrent of vaccine hesitancy especially among the young … not young children, but young parents.”