Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than one million deaths and 82 million cases in the United States have been recorded.1 Selected mitigation efforts include: social distancing, masking, improving indoor air filtration, and vaccination. For the latter, mass vaccination efforts began in early 2021, resulting in 83% of the national population age 5 years and older receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.1 The rate for children age 5-11 years who have received at least one vaccine dose (authorized in October 2021) is much lower at 29%. In Milford, CT, the geographic location for this project, 46% of 5-11 year-olds received at least one dose.3 Although higher than the national average, the Milford Health Department hopes to increase the COVID-19 vaccine coverage of at least one dose for children 5-11 years and also children younger than 5 years once the FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is obtained. Increasing vaccine uptake is critical because higher vaccination rates have been associated with fewer hospitalizations and death.4 Additionally, effective programming and communications from the Milford Health Department could strengthen its relationship with the community and facilitate the implementation of future department initiatives.
“The heart issues with boys in particular I think is really concerning. The biggest thing for my husband and I is the long-term - what would happen in 10, 20 years from now and I don’t think anyone can reassure you on that. That was our biggest worry.”
“…So all of that kind of dishonesty or what we perceive as dishonesty has just really eroded our trust in the people making these decisions.”
“There’s no studies done on it and it’s all been really for emergency authorization use. It’s not you know, it’s not like you have 20 or 30 years worth of history like the flu would.”
Our team would like to thank the Milford community members who participated in and supported this project. The survey and interview responses were highly valuable in understanding community needs around the COVID-19 vaccine for children. The work was also made possible by our preceptors Jennifer Clarke-Lofters and Deepa Joseph, as well as our Teaching Fellow Mata'uitafa T. S. Faiai and Professor Debbie Humphries.