Montana kids urged to get vaccinated as new school year approaches

Posted at 1:58 PM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 15:59:15-04

BILLINGS - Montana kids are lagging behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates.

More than half of Montana high schoolers are not vaccinated against the virus and for elementary and middle school kids that number jumps to 75%. Now with the new school year about to start, Montana pediatricians are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated against the deadly virus.

“There’s folks that feel like it hasn’t been recommended strongly enough, so I’m here as a pediatrician saying absolutely I recommend it for all children. Not just high risk, not just ones who live with someone who is high risk, but all children should be vaccinated," says Dr. Kathryn Lysinger, a pediatrician at Billings Clinic.

But that advice is falling on deaf ears, at least in Montana.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 50 million children ages 5 to 11 nationwide have received at least one dose of the vaccine, representing 37% of 5 to 11-year-olds, compared to 24% in Montana.

For 12 to 17-year-olds, 69% nationally have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to just 46% in Montana. Lysinger says the response from parents to getting their kids vaccinated has been hot and cold.

“Just like with everything in vaccines, there’s differences amongst a lot of folks. There’s a lot that were anxiously waiting to get vaccines for their kids and so I’d have patients that would ask every time, and I’d say we’re still waiting and then there’s others that definitely need more education and time, I do hear that a lot that they want more time," Lysinger said.

"There’s a message out there that this was rushed, that it’s too early, but this is really the best-studied vaccine that we have because so many people have been taking it. And now the first folks that have received the vaccine have been researched for some time now.”

No kid likes getting a shot, but as a new school year begins and schools across Montana have lifted their mask mandates, vaccines can arm kids with a powerful tool against COVID-19.