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caption: Sandino, eight months old, gets his first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine at Seattle Children's on June 21, 2022.
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Sandino, eight months old, gets his first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine at Seattle Children's on June 21, 2022.
Credit: KUOW photo/Kate Walters

Covid vaccine rates among young children remain low in Washington state

I has been about a month and a half since the youngest children in Washington state have been able to get Covid shots, but fewer than 9% have received their first dose.

The rollout for children younger than 5 has been slow, and the demand has been less than it's been for other age groups.

Michele Roberts, the assistant secretary for prevention and community health at the Washington state Department of Health, said some parents are still taking a "wait and see" approach, but she disagrees with that strategy.

"You're choosing a different set of risks for your child," Roberts said. "It is not a risk-free decision to not vaccinate right now, either for routine immunizations or for Covid."

While children who catch Covid tend to have more mild cases, Roberts said they can contribute to community transmission and can get very sick.

Hospitalizations for young children, like everyone, rose during the omicron surge.

Roberts said parents who have questions or concerns about the vaccines need to speak with a health-care provider.

According to Washington's Covid dashboard, 8.8% of children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old have had their first Covid-19 shot, and 1.4% have completed their primary series.

A total of 37% of 5- to 11-year-olds have had their first dose, and 33% have completed the two-dose series.

The older the age group, the more likely they have completed a vaccine series, with nearly 100% of ages 65 and older receiving at least one dose.

Roberts said vaccination rates in the youngest children varies significantly in different areas of the state. A higher number of children are getting vaccinated in King County, for example.