The number of childhood vaccines remains low in Missouri as COVID peaks

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Signs on the door of a Barnes Jewish hospital clinic show various pandemic-related restrictions.  The region's hospitals are seeing an unprecedented number of pediatric COVID cases.  - DANNY WICENTOWSKI

  • Signs on the door of a Barnes Jewish hospital clinic show various pandemic-related restrictions. The region’s hospitals are seeing an unprecedented number of pediatric COVID cases.

Fewer than one in five vaccinated children in St. Louis City has received their full inoculation, but that rate is still close to the top across the state as new data shows Missouri continues to struggle to protect children from COVID.

Missouri is among many states where vaccination rates for young children between the ages of five and eleven have stalled. January 12 data from the CDC show that only 13.1 percent of children in Missouri are fully vaccinated – even though it is only moderately worse than the nationwide average of 18 percent.

As reported by Kaiser Health News this week, local vaccination rates for children ages five to eleven show that St. Louis County leads all counties in Missouri with 24.5 percent fully vaccinated; It is also noteworthy that the county boasts nearly 85,000 children within the eligible age group, by far the largest among Missouri regions and more than twice as many of the approximately 36,000 vaccinated children in St. Louis. Charles.

Both St. Charles and St. Louis City shows similar vaccination rates of about 19 percent. St. Louis City counts about 21,700 eligible children within its boundaries: In Jackson County, which includes Kansas City, about 15 percent of the county’s 65,000 children are fully vaccinated.

There are several reasons for the slow pace of vaccine adoption for young children, and in its report, Kaiser Health News highlights the role of pervasive misinformation: Some parents, like a Missouri mother who spoke to Kaiser Health News about her initial reluctance to vaccinate her child, is stuck with claims that pretend to show that children are at greater risk of COVID vaccine damage – specifically for a heart-related side effect called myocarditis – than the danger from the disease itself.

But as mentioned non-physician and podcast host Joe Rogan recently discovered, scientific research on children with COVID shows the opposite: Yes, there is a greater risk of myocarditis – but that risk is found in unvaccinated children receiving COVID.

And while children have a lower risk of serious COVID-related illness, recent studies, including those involving researchers at Washington University and Harvard, found that children can still become seriously ill – and that they can spread COVID even while asymptomatic.

In St. Louis City pediatric COVID cases have increased as the Omicron variant continues to spread. The result is hospitalization numbers that compete with even the worst stretches of the pandemic: Last week, the city set a new record for children hospitalized with COVID at 64. On Friday, St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force 46 admissions for those eighteen and younger – of those admitted, 28 are younger than twelve, and six of them are listed as in the intensive care unit.

The combination of a rapidly spreading variant and a delay in vaccinations for children comes at a difficult time for politicians and medical experts trying to reduce the suffocation of critical hospital resources. Measures that could help keep more people out of hospital beds – such as vaccine and mask mandates – have instead become the target of the Missouri Attorney General in his mission to use a negative court decision to undo local health orders.

On top of all this, mobilizing COVID testing facilities and sending home tests has proven to be a multi-level challenge. St. Louis City and other regions are also struggling with an unreliable COVID test partner, who is now facing inquiries about fraud allegations.

Dr. Alex Garza, co-chair of the pandemic task force, noted in an update on January 11 that the absence of mitigation efforts has made the current increase in pediatric COVID cases “unfortunately predictable.”

The situation, he said, has allowed the virus to “really run amok.”

“Among other things,” Garza added, addressing the Omicron rise, “it makes many children sick and keeps them out of school. [and] place an increased number in the hospital. “

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at
@D_Towski. Send an email to the author at

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