For weeks, the school’s principal begged Kemika Cosey: Would she please allow her children, ages 7 and 11, to get Covid shots?
Miss Cosey remained steadfast. A hard no.
But Mr. Kip – Brigham Kiplinger, principal of Garrison Elementary School in Washington, DC – removed “no”.
Since the federal government authorized the coronavirus vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 nearly three months ago, Mr. Kip has been calling parents of the school, texting, nagging, complaining daily. Acting as a vaccine advocate – a job often taken up by medical professionals and public health officials – has become central to his role as an educator. “Vaccines are the most important thing that happened this year to keep children in school,” Mr. Kiplinger said.
He said largely through Mr. Kiplinger’s skill as a parent whisperer, Garrison Elementary has become a public health anomaly: 80% of the 250 Garrison cats from kindergarten By fifth grade had at least one shot.
But as the Omicron variant stormed the classrooms of America, sending students home and, in some cases, to hospitals, the overall vaccination rate for America’s 28 million 5- to 11-year-olds is even lower than health experts fear. According to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation based on federal data, currently only 18.8% are fully immunized and only 28.1% get one dose.
The disparity in rates between states is stark. In Vermont, the percentage of children who are fully immunized is 52%; in Mississippi, it’s 6 percent.
“It would be a long slogan at this point to get children vaccinated,” said Jennifer Kates, senior vice president at Kaiser, who specializes in global health policy. She says it will take the same persistence as Mr. Kiplinger, whom she knows firsthand because her child attends his school. “It’s hard, it’s hard to get to the parents.”
After the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for use in younger children in late October, the spike in demand lasted several weeks. It peaked just before Thanksgiving, then plummeted and has since stalled. It now hovers around 50,000 to 75,000 new doses per day.
Dr Kates said: “I am amazed at how quickly interest in vaccines for children has waned. “Even parents who have been vaccinated are more cautious about getting their children vaccinated.”
Public health officials say that persuading parents to get their children vaccinated is important not only to maintain education in place but also to prevent the pandemic in general. With adult vaccination there will be a ceiling of – 74 percent of Americans people 18 years of age and older are now fully vaccinated and most of these people seem increasingly unable to move – unvaccinated primary school children are still a source of chaos and great spread. Traveling to and from school on buses, crossing school corridors, bathrooms, classrooms and gyms, they can inadvertently act as vectors of disease countless times a day.
Parents give countless reasons for their hesitation. And with their innate protective vigilance on behalf of their children, they are vulnerable to rampant misinformation. For many working parents, the obstacle is logistics rather than philosophy, as they struggle to find the time to take their children to the clinic, doctor’s office or pharmacy for vaccines.
In some communities where adults are strongly opposed to vaccines, local health departments and schools do not vigorously promote vaccination for children for fear of a backlash. Pharmacies may not even bother stocking up on pediatric dosages.
Despite the rise of overcrowded hospitals in Covid, sick children and the highly contagious aspect of Omicron disease, many parents are still affected by last year’s spike that was generally not too severe. As harsh on children as adults, do not believe the virus is dangerous enough to warrant a risk. their child’s health on a new vaccine.
Health communication experts also blame that view on the initial mixed message around Omicron, which was initially described as “mild” but also a variant that could pierce the vaccine’s protections. ask for.
Many parents interpret those messages to mean that the footage serves no purpose. In fact, vaccines have been shown to provide strong protection against severe illness and death, although they are not as effective at preventing infection with Omicron as other variants.
And the number of children for whom Covid is diagnosed only continues to grow, as a report last week from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr Moira Szilagyi, president of the academy, which has promoted higher vaccination rates, said, “Nearly two years after this pandemic, we know that this disease is not always mild in children and We have seen some very sick children. , both in the short and long term. ”
Realizing the urgency, proponents of Covid photos are redouble their efforts to convince the parents. American Academy of Pediatrics has put together talking points for pediatricians and parents. Kaiser has its own parent-friendly vaccine information Location. Patsy Stinchfield, a nurse-physician is the incoming president of National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, maintains a full speaking schedule, answering questions about the Covid vaccine from parents, teens, pediatricians, and radio talk show hosts.
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health just posted a Free online training course to help provide vaccine advocates with language and a way to reach their drug-resistant friends. It provides vaccine information, resources and techniques to engage them.
One tip is to share personal stories about Covid, to base the vaccine’s purpose in real life. Another way is to normalize Covid vaccination by proudly telling friends and family when your child is vaccinated against Covid.
Rupali Limaye, an associate scientist at Bloomberg who studies vaccine messaging and develops the course, says that giving parents the tools to convince others of a Covid shot can improve rates receptive, especially now that some hesitant parents are rejecting their pediatrician’s advice. She calls them peer “vaccine ambassadors,” with more time and less capacity to use than doctors. “This is a very sensitive topic for a lot of people,” Dr. Limaye added.
Coronavirus pandemic: What you need to know
He said largely through Mr. Kiplinger’s skill as a parent whisperer, Garrison Elementary has become a public health anomaly: 80% of the 250 Garrison cats from kindergarten By fifth grade had at least one shot. Nationally, only 28.1 percent of children ages 5 to 11 received a single dose.
Since November, Mr. Kiplinger, who has been Garrison’s principal for five years, has been working through a list of parents’ daily calls. He said he understands their anxiety because he went through the same mental gymnastics before deciding to get his two young sons vaccinated.
He’s suspended every way he can: At lunchtime, he asks students to raise their hands if they get a Covid shot, applauds them and urges others to continue cheering their friends on.
“I really had a lot of pain in my butt,” he admitted. “I harass them lovingly.”
Covid has been particularly brutal on Black and Hispanic families, whose children make up about 80% of the school’s population. Mr. Kiplinger understood that as a white man, he was limited in asking these parents for confidence in vaccines and thus infuriated Black pediatricians by providing medical information as well as certification.
“Given a history of understandable medical doubt in communities of color, hesitation is natural and understandable,” he said. “But to keep our Wild Cats safe and at school, we must overcome our natural fear of the new and the unknown and take every measure possible.”
Many parents told him that they couldn’t take time off work to take their kids for injections. So Mr. Kiplinger collaborated with a city program to host Covid vaccine clinics in the school cafeteria during caregiver-friendly hours from 3:30pm to 7pm. open their arms.
Ms Cosey, Garrison’s parent, who has staunchly resisted Mr Kiplinger’s pleas for weeks, was worried that the vaccine might worsen her son’s many allergies. “It took me a little while to do some more research,” she said.
Earlier this month, she took both children to the school for medical check-ups. Yes, her pediatrician encouraged her, but she also credits Mr. Kiplinger. She laughed. Her 5th graders have been at Garrison since kindergarten: “Mr. The crew is more of a family, so when I say he nags, it’s a good nagging! ”
She said that at the school clinic: “Mr. Take a million pictures! He was just super excited when I decided to come on. “
Mr. Kiplinger is determined to transform the remaining vaccine stock at Garrison. At the most recent vaccine clinic, he stood watching a mother argue over the phone with her husband. “The mom and her four Wild Cats wanted the shots, but for the dad it was ‘no’. It breaks my heart,” he said.
“But we have another clinic coming up,” he added, “and I hope that maybe he will come back.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/29/health/covid-vaccine-children.html Tired parents are the target of new calls for immunizations for 5-11 year olds