STOCKTON, California — More than two months after COVID-19 shots were made available for children ages 5-11, the vaccination rate remains low nationwide at just over 17%.
In California, the vaccination rate for the same age group is just short of 19%. Those numbers mirror the vaccination rate in San Joaquin County where a little less than 18% of eligible kids ages 5-11 are vaccinated.
At Spanos Elementary School in South Stockton, 10-year-old Kayloni Mahan was done with school for the day. The fifth grader is vaccinated against COVID-19.
"So I can be healthy when the corona hits me," Kayloni said.
Some of the reasons for those opting against the shot are suspicion, misinformation, complacency, delays because of the holidays and bad weather, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The low rates are "very disturbing. It's just alarming," Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director for the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, told the AP.
When attempting to contact a local pediatrician to comment for this story, one office in Stockton said two doctors were out sick with COVID and their office was swamped. No one could be made available.
Sadiri Abenojar of Stockton has two daughters, ages five and 10, who are both vaccinated.
"So, the COVID will not spread to other people. It's safer that way," Abenojar said.
Roberta Smith of Stockton is the caregiver for two grand nieces, six and 10 years old. Both are vaccinated. She believes parents born in the 90s are reluctant to get the vaccine.
"I have four of them. They did get vaccinated, but it was a fight. So you've got all these young parents thinking the government is against them, and they don't want to get it and they don't want their kids vaccinated," Smith said.
Hospitalizations of kids under 18 with COVID-19 in the U.S. have climbed to their highest levels on record in the past few weeks, according to the Associated Press.
The CDC says COVID-19 ranks as "one of the top 10 causes of death for children ages 5 through 11."
Vaccination can help "keep children from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19," according to the CDC.
10-year-old Jaime Abenojar of Stockton got vaccinated and had this message for other kids.
"Please get vaccinated soon, so you can't get sick," Jaime said.