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Only 9% of Louisiana school-aged children vaccinated against COVID

File: Photo of school bus
File: Photo of school bus
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 2:03 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Most children in Louisiana remain unprotected from COVID-19 as they prepare to head back to school in just a few weeks.

Over a year into the pandemic and seven months after the initial vaccine rollout, vaccination rates are fairly low statewide. However, it’s the lack of a vaccine authorized for children under 12 that has left an estimated 732-thousand of the state’s children unvaccinated. As of July 27, only one vaccine, the 2-dose Pfizer vaccine, is authorized for use in children 12 to 17.

The latest data released by the state health department shows that only 9% of the state’s roughly 800-thousand school-aged children are protected. The age restriction means lower grade levels will likely be made up completely of unvaccinated children.

Vaccinations Among Ages 5-17 in Louisiana

(2018 Population Estimates)

  • 732,997 not vaccinated
  • 66,138 partially or fully vaccinated
    • (21,929 partially vaccinated)
    • (44,209 fully vaccinated)

None of the state’s 309-thousand children 4 and under have been vaccinated. Including these children, only 6% of the state’s 1.1 million children are vaccinated.

For comparison, the state considers just over 30% of Northeast Louisiana residents to be fully vaccinated. Vaccination rates skew higher among older populations. The only age groups in Northeast Louisiana with vaccination rates above 50% are those 60 and older.

This chart shows how many people have been vaccinated in Louisiana as of the last week in July,...
This chart shows how many people have been vaccinated in Louisiana as of the last week in July, 2021.(Source: Louisiana Dept. of Health)

The CDC is expected to issue new guidelines for masks in schools on Tuesday. Students and employees will be recommended to wear a mask in all kindergarten through 12th-grade schools, regardless of vaccination status.

It’s important to remember that even fully vaccinated people can catch and spread COVID-19, although it’s at a much lower rate than the unvaccinated. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are estimated to be around 95% effective. The Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine is said to be only 72% effective. Compromised immune systems and the number of exposures will also affect the vaccine’s effectiveness, so keep that in mind. Other problems have been reported with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as well.

The vaccines also mitigate the severity of the infection. The thousands of fully vaccinated people who test positive for COVID won’t get as sick, typically.

Meanwhile, Moderna and Pfizer are still doing clinical trials for children. Vaccines for children 5 to 11 could come sometime in September.

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