State health leaders say low vaccination numbers in 12-17 age group

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 10:45 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Children’s of Alabama reports an increase in the number of school age children coming into the emergency room with COVID-19.

State health officials report that more than 5,500 school age kids have tested positive for the virus over the last week. That is a 700% increase from this time last year.

“We are seeing a lot of kids come in with symptoms,” said Children’s of Alabama Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow Dr. Alicia Webb. “We are seeing a lot of kids come in sick. We are seeing kids with COVID-19 from newborn all the way up through 18.”

Webb said most patients are school age children. She said some are testing positive and some are coming just because of classroom exposures.

The state health department reports that 5,571 school age children have tested positive just within the last week.

“We don’t necessarily know those kids were in a classroom,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris. “Certainly don’t know that they contracted it in a classroom, but among school age children that was the number of cases that were reported.”

Dr. Harris said while the state’s vaccination rate is improving, with 1.74 million people now fully vaccinated, vaccinations in young people continue to lag behind.

“We still see only about 29% of Alabamians in the 12-17 age group,” Harris said.

Dr. Harris says we need to do better and is urging you to vaccinate your eligible kids. He said this is one of the only ways to keep your kids safe while at school.

“It is crucial that we get those kids vaccinated,” Harris said. “If nothing else, the numbers of school age kids will convince you the importance to do that.”

Harris said there are more than 1,400 vaccination locations statewide, with multiple locations in every county.

“I would really call on parents in Alabama to please talk to your medical provider about vaccinating your child,” Harris said.

The state health department just launched their school dashboard. It shows weekly COVID cases for each district so parents can keep track. Dr. Harris said not all schools are reporting just yet, but he hopes to have all districts reporting their COVID cases by the end of next week.

Click here to view the dashboard.

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