Local experts discuss younger teen vaccine demand: Why is it low?

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 8:08 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s been nearly a month since the vaccine rollout opened up to younger teens. And like other groups in the rollout we’re seeing demand start to die down after that initial rush. We checked in with local experts to get a better idea of just how many kids are getting vaccinated.

Vaccine demand from people between 12 and 16 seems to have really gone down. As a matter of fact, we’ve spent about two hours today at a vaccination site that’s open to that age group, and in those two hours we saw a total of four cars. So, we asked someone with AU Health why is this demand so low?

“In the very beginning there is a pent up demand of individuals that want it, and then that number goes down very quickly as individuals have access to the vaccine,” said Dr. Joshua Wyche, Augusta University Health.

Wyche says many 12- to 16-year-olds got vaccinated when eligibility opened up. Now that it’s been open for a few weeks, demand has dropped. He says dropping case numbers could be a reason for this.

“We have seen such a dramatic shift in the number of infections, both in the United States and locally, so it makes people have the false security that COVID-19 is not an issue,” he said.

We reached out to some of our area school districts and none are requiring COVID vaccinations at this point.

In a statement, the Columbia County School District says it, “encourages parents to have their children 12 years of age and older receive the COVID-19 immunization.”

And the Richmond County School System “continues to encourage employees and students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Wyche says he would feel confident letting his kids get the vaccine if they were in that age group. But he thinks it should be up to the parents.

“My hope is that parents are gonna do their research, and with that research they’re gonna talk with their pediatricians and make the decision if it is the right thing for their 12-year-old child.”

Making decisions as we approach the next school year.

We also reached out to Aiken County public schools. They’re still working on their back to school plan. We’ll be sure to share those details when we have them.

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