Less than half of teens ages 12 to 17 have been vaccinated against COVID-19, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals.
As of July 31, 42.4 percent of U.S. adolescents eligible for the vaccine have received at least one dose.
Nearly a third, 31.9 percent, are fully vaccinated.
The report comes as schools across the country reopen and the number of cases among the youngest age group in the US begins to grow.
Only 42.4% of teens have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and less than a third have been fully vaccinated
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only injection that can be used on minors in the US
The Pfizer shot has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for anyone age 16 or older, and Emergency Authorization (EUA) for Americans ages 12 to 15.
The 16 and 17 year olds are the most vaccinated among minors, with 50 percent having received at least one injection and 40 percent being fully vaccinated.
Only 40 percent of 14 and 15-year-olds have received at least one shot, and 30 percent have been fully vaccinated.
The 12 to 13 age group has even lower rates, with 36 percent being at least partially vaccinated and 25 percent having both shots.
Those aged 16 and 17 were initially eligible since the start of the vaccine rollout in December 2020, while the vaccine did not receive an EUA for those aged 12 or older until May, which explains some of the disparity in vaccination coverage.
The CDC also reports that 56 percent of parents with children ages 12 to 17 have expressed a desire to have their sons and daughters vaccinated.
“Since parents’ vaccination status is a marker of adolescents’ vaccination status, parental hesitation or anti-vaccination feelings may directly lead to missed opportunities to vaccinate adolescents,” researchers wrote.
There are big differences between some states and their teen vaccination rates.
In Vermont, the most vaccinated state in America, more than 60 percent of teens are fully vaccinated.
By comparison, in Mississippi, only ten percent of teens have received both injections.
States on the West Coast and Northeast have much higher teen vaccination rates than those in the South
Researchers note that western states like California, Oregon and Washington — all of which have vaccination rates around 50 percent — and northeastern states like Vermont and Connecticut — both of which have over 60 percent — are more vaccinated than many southern states, many of which are in the 1930s.
As schools open and cases among children begin to rise, the urge to vaccinate more young people in the country is growing.
More than 180,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 last week, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, a 50 percent increase from the previous week.
Many of these cases take place in schools, as many children return to full-time in-person learning this fall for the first time in about 18 months.
Thousands of children are already in quarantine due to contamination or exposure to the virus during the opening weeks of the school year, and some schools have even had to close.
“Because personal learning promotes social and emotional development, a safe return to school for personal learning remains a goal,” researchers wrote.
“Given the rapid emergence and spread of the highly transmissible B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and the increase in cases and hospitalizations among children and adolescents, high vaccination coverage of adolescents is crucial for a safer return to the classroom.’
The CDC believes that schools themselves could be used to get more teens vaccinated.
“On-site vaccine administration in schools is an effective, evidence-based intervention that improves vaccination coverage in children and adolescents to routinely recommended vaccines,” they wrote.
“Government and local governments, school administrators, community leaders, health care professionals and public health professionals can facilitate a safer return to school and improve equality between sociodemographic groups by prioritizing COVID-19 vaccination in adolescents and through on-site school vaccinations in to be taken for eligible students.’