MINNEAPOLIS — Nationwide, the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations among 5-to-11-year-olds is dropping steadily.
"Certainly across the health care spectrum, the Minnesota Department of Health, we are seeing these numbers plateau and decline," said Dr. Madeleine Gagnon, vice chief of staff at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
Last fall, when the US Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11, Dr. Gagnon says she saw an influx of parents eager to get their kids vaccinated.
"Around Thanksgiving and the weeks surrounding that, those parents who were sure this was the right decision for their child were there, and then steadily, that has dropped off," said Dr. Gagnon.
She says now, "We're seeing rates around 44% here in the metro, and percentages less than that in greater Minnesota."
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 28% of kids in the state ages 5-11 received both doses, compared to the national average of 18%, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Recent data from the Mayo Clinic shows Minnesota ranks sixth in the nation for vaccination rates among the 5-11 age group, but a spokesperson with MDH says the state is working to improve those numbers.
"We want to do everything we can to promote information and trust," said Dr. Gagnon.
She says while the omicron variant is still a concern for children, their goal is to provide parents with the right information to get more kids vaccinated.
"We're in a place for the parents who have not yet made a decision on the vaccine, that there is hesitancy and a lot of misinformation and disinformation circulating," she said. "It's so important to reach out to trusted medical officials in your life and people who can get you the information about vaccine safety and vaccine efficacy."
MDH says after the state recently expanded its incentive program to provide $200 to families who get their 5-11-year-old vaccinated, they've already seen a 14% increase in week-over-week vaccination rates.
MDH's multi-pronged approach:
- Locating vaccination clinics where communities of high vulnerability have easier access.
- Engaging a diverse group of trusted messengers to guide people with questions or concerns toward additional information along with details for how to access vaccinations. These include medical professionals, faith leaders and childcare providers.
- Expanding capacity at the Mall of America vaccination site and opening a new community vaccination site in Oakdale.
- Partnering with more than 800 vaccine providers statewide to make sure we are providing easy access to vaccines for all Minnesotans.
- Coordinating with schools to host in-school clinics for students and their families.
- Using all communications channels to educate parents about the value and safety of the vaccine, including mn.gov/vaxforkids and television and digital advertising.
For more information on where you can get vaccinated or a booster shot, visit Vaccine Locations / COVID-19 Updates and Information - State of Minnesota (mn.gov).
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