by James A. Bacon
About 21,000 Virginia children aged four and under have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the three weeks since the shots were made available, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. That amounts to only 5% of the age group, observes reporter Eric Kolenich, but it’s significantly higher than the national average of 2%.
I’m double vaxed and double boosted. But, then, I’m 69 years old. Nearly 3,800 Virginians in my age bracket have died from the virus. Only 13 children under the age of nine have succumbed.
I don’t proffer unsolicited advice to my daughters. They’re intelligent women capable of making informed decisions about my three grandchildren, and I’m not inclined to meddle. But if they sought my counsel (which they haven’t), I would advise against vaccinating the little knuckleheads.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, nearly 160,000 cases of COVID have been reported for the 0-to-9 age bracket. The chances of little guys getting the virus are high. But only 942 have been hospitalized, and only 13 have died.
Some children are at greater risk than others. Infants (younger than six months) and children with a pre-term birth history, diabetes or asthma are at higher risk of hospitalization than others. If your child does not have one of those pre-existing conditions, the odds of getting severely ill are extremely low. Given the possibility (remote but real) of adverse reactions, vaccination for healthy tots might be a net negative.
There’s another consideration. The efficacy of the vaccines and boosters are known without a doubt to decline over time, and some suggest (I can’t vouch for the science, but it doesn’t sound implausible) that repeated administrations of the vaccine might undermine the body’s natural immunological defenses. My thought is that parents should defer getting their children vaccinated until they reach an age at which the risk profile justifies it.
Given the fact that there seems to be no stampede toward vaccination of young children in Virginia or anywhere else, I’m guessing that many moms have already reached that conclusion.
An aside on the VDH COVID database: the VDH database has cool new features. You can view confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for as long as data have been collected, but you can also narrow the results to the past year, the past half-year, and the past 13 weeks. Given the fact that the virus has mutated and new strains are in circulation, more recent results might provide a better measure of current risk profiles than pandemic-long results.
Looking at COVID-19 deaths that have occurred in the past 26 weeks, roughly coinciding with the onset of the Omicron variant, there have been three deaths in Virginia among children aged 0 to 9.