Atlanta—Racial and ethnic differences affect the likelihood of whether children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 years received COVID-19 vaccinations, according to a new study.

The article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report pointed out, “By August 31, 2022, Asian children and adolescents had substantially higher coverage than did all other children and adolescents overall and when stratified by factors associated with lower coverage for all children and adolescents, indicating a willingness across demographic and behavioral characteristics in this population to receive vaccination.”

The authors from the CDC added that from July 1, 2022, to September 30, 2022, most children and adolescents who initiated a primary COVID-19 vaccination series also completed the primary series, “an encouraging sign of COVID-19 vaccine access and acceptance among parents who intend to vaccinate, but efforts are needed to achieve much higher coverage levels for all children and adolescents.”

The CDC said it embarked on the study in hopes of improving vaccination rates. “Frequent mask use in public and receipt of influenza vaccine were associated with higher COVID-19 vaccination coverage among all children and adolescents; however, among black and Hispanic children and adolescents with these characteristics, the increase in coverage was smaller,” the researchers explained. “Less than one-half of parents of black and Hispanic children and adolescents had confidence in COVID-19 vaccine safety, which might indicate reluctance to be vaccinated among a population receptive to other public health behaviors.”

During the time period studies, public health officials noted that large proportions of Hispanic and black children and adolescents were unvaccinated. With 26% and 29% vaccination rates, however, more young people were considered reachable “suggesting that coverage might increase over time with strengthened public health interventions.”

At the same time, the CDC authors pointed out, “A higher proportion of parents of other/multiple race and white children and adolescents were reluctant to vaccinate their child (36% and 40%, respectively) than were considered reachable (15%), suggesting potential difficulty achieving high vaccination coverage among these children and adolescents.”

The article concluded that vaccination coverage could be increased if community members act as trusted messengers to advocate for vaccination among parents of unvaccinated children and adolescents, emphasizing confidence in vaccine safety and importance. In addition, it adds, “Provider recommendation is an impactful driver of vaccination. A multifaceted approach with community collaboration and provider recommendation are essential to increasing childhood COVID-19 vaccination coverage.”

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