38% of eligible Florida kids have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, data shows

ORLANDO, Fla. — In just a few days, when school starts again in Central Florida, children ages 12 and up can come to the classrooms with an extra layer of protection.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been eligible for kids as young as 12 for about three months, but state data shows roughly 38% of kids ages 12 to 19 in Florida have gotten at least one shot.

READ: Orange County schools to require face masks for students unless parents provide note opting out

“In my mind, as an infectious diseases doctor, it’s a very disappointing number,” said Dr. Federico Laham, medical director for pediatric infectious diseases at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

In Orange County, Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino said right now, 47% of kids ages 12 to 17 in the county have at least one dose, a percentage that is continuing to rise.

READ: Gov. DeSantis signs executive order against rules to make children wear masks in schools

Laham said over the last two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases among children has rapidly escalated.

The age group among children with the most coronavirus cases is those that are vaccine-eligible between ages 12 and 19.

This school year, with the majority of kids unvaccinated and masks optional for students in Central Florida, there’s a lot of worry, especially surrounding the delta variant.

READ: President of Florida Education Association applauds schools adding mask mandates, defying governor

“This virus appears to be more contagious, and kids do appear to transmit the virus,” Laham said.

Data scientist Dr. Eric Solomon said the good news is that state data shows each week, more children ages 12 to 19 are rolling up their sleeves to get the shot. Data shows that age group is showing up right now more than anyone else.

READ: OCPS mask mandate for employees goes into effect, leaders give update on back-to-school safety

“They’ve had the best vaccination levels of any group every week of the month,” Solomon said.

It’s expected this trend will continue as kids return to the classroom.

“It’s a good move in terms of preparing for the new school year,” Solomon said.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.