EDITORIAL: Renew commitment to educating public about vaccines

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for COVID-19 booster vaccinations. More than two years since the onset of the pandemic, there are too many variables, including if you’ve already had the virus, and it can come down to individual choice.

As the Associated Press put it in a story early this month about booster shots, “it’s the kind of calculation many Americans will face as booster shots that target currently circulating omicron strains become available to a population with widely varying risks and levels of immunity.”

One aspect that has been drawing concern locally, however, is the continuing low vaccination rates among infants and preschoolers, and slowing rates for those ages 5 to 11. As Cris Villalonga-Vivoni recently reported for the Record-Journal, just four percent of Meriden children under 5 years old have received their first dose of the vaccine. Fewer than one percent are fully vaccinated. The vaccine became available for children, after delays, in June.

For children ages 5 to 11, the statistic is better, but nothing to be satisfied about. Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved vaccination for that age group in November, 40% of Meriden children have received their first dose and 35% are fully vaccinated.

The observation by Lea Crown, Meriden’s director of health and human services, is stating the obvious, but when it comes to COVID such statements have proven worth repeating: “People are best protected when they are up to date on their vaccinations. The vaccinations are protection against getting seriously ill — or even hospitalized — from and as a result of COVID-19.”

There are likely several factors contributing to the hesitancy — the vaccine became available at the onset of summer, when people have other things in mind, is an example — but clearly a better effort needs to be made to get the word out. Villalonga-Vivoni talked to Kate Glendon, public health specialist for the Chesprocott Health District. Cheshire is among towns in the state with higher vaccination rates.

“We’re trying to educate (families) as much as we can to (help) understand that this age population is still, even though they’re healthy, a vulnerable population,” said Glendon.

There’s been an uneven track record when it comes to getting the word out about COVID and vaccines, but that doesn’t render unimportant the need for vaccination. Improvement does not seem likely unless there’s a renewed commitment to educating the public.




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