New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli finds it worrisome that coronavirus vaccination rates among children and young adults under the age of 30 in New Jersey lag behind all other eligibles. The state’s top health official urged Monday younger residents to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase.
As reported by Brent Johnson from nj.com, among residents ages 18 to 29, 62% have had at least one dose of the vaccine. Among those 12 to 17, the number is only 44%, though that age group was approved for the Pfizer vaccine only starting in May.
During a briefing in Trenton, Persichilli stressed the relevance of increasing the vaccination rate for that group. “We need that coverage to be higher.”
The health official said parents also play a role in the process of increasing the vaccination rates. “The best thing parents can do to protect the health of their children is to vaccinate them against this virus. Getting their children vaccinated allows them to safely return to schools, to the sports they enjoy, and other activities they missed out on over the past year.”
Now is the time
As New Jersey expects to return to full in-person classes for the next academic year, the commissioner recommended that parents should make vaccination appointments now so children are protected against the virus when they return to school in the fall.
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More than 76% of New Jersey’s eligible population, all those 12 and older, has received at least one vaccine dose, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible in the U.S.
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart, with recipients considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose.
Those who oppose vaccinating children argue that they are much less likely to contract serious cases of the virus.
Children do well
In the opinion of the Medical Director of the Communicable Disease Service of the state Department of Health, Edward Lifshitz, children indeed “do very well” against COVID-19. However, he stressed that they can still infect others. “While it is still not entirely clear as to whether they pass it on as often as older people do, it is clear they certainly do sometimes pass it along,” Lifshitz said.
The director pointed out that getting vaccinated results in more protection for all the residents. “By protecting them, you’re protecting the other people out there,” he said.
Daily cases and hospitalizations have been increasing in New Jersey in recent days. Officials say unvaccinated people are not helping to curb the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.
Gov. Phil Murphy has said that due to New Jersey’s relatively high vaccination rate, officials are “relatively hopeful” that hospitalizations “will not return to where we were even a little more than two months ago.”
“But unless more of you who, for whatever reason, have not yet been vaccinated step forward and receive your doses, these risks remain,” the Democratic governor added.