Two charts from the Kaiser Family Foundation on parents' feelings about the COVID-19 vaccination
Two charts from the Kaiser Family Foundation on parents’ feelings about the COVID-19 vaccination for children under age 5. Credit: Screengrab / Kaiser Family Foundation

Connecticut parents have been slow to vaccinate young children against the COVID-19 virus, according to statistics from the Public Health Department that show that fewer than 5,000 children under five had received a shot since they were approved last month.

Children between six months and five years old were the last age group recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. In the roughly three weeks since that approval, 4,797 Connecticut children in that age range have received their first shots. 

According to state public health officials, that represents about 2.6% of the approximately 183,000 children in the age bracket. 

In a statement, Dr. Manisha Juthani, the state’s public health commissioner, recommended that parents vaccinate their children as soon as possible, even if they had previously contracted the COVID-19 virus. 

“Although most children have only mild symptoms when infected, COVID-19 can cause some children to become very sick, even to the point of requiring hospitalization,” Juthani said. “COVID-19 is the leading cause of infectious disease-related death in people up to 19 years old, but data shows that those deaths can be prevented through vaccination.”

The numbers released by the DPH put Connecticut’s vaccination rates for the youngest children roughly on par with the nation as a whole.

A poll released in May by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about 18% of parents reporting being eager to vaccinate their children under five while 38% said they would wait to see how it goes. Another 11% said they would vaccinate their children only if it’s required, and another 27% said they definitely would not vaccinate their children for COVID-19.

Juthani said the vaccines had additional benefits of reducing transmission of the virus and eliminating quarantine requirements for children who are exposed.

As of Thursday, Connecticut’s COVID-19 infection rate had risen to 10.64%, more than 1% higher than the previous week. Meanwhile, 264 people were hospitalized with the virus and another 10 people died, bringing the state’s total number of COVID-associated deaths to 11,055 since the beginning of the pandemic.