Almost 1 million children ages 5 to 11 have received their first COVID-19 shot within the first week of eligibility, the Biden administration announced last week. 

But the rollout of COVID-19 shots for elementary-age children has exposed another blind spot in the nation’s efforts to address pandemic inequalities: Health systems have released little data on the racial breakdown of youth vaccinations, and community leaders fear that Black and Latino kids are falling behind.

A few states only have data available on COVID-19 vaccines by race and/or age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t compile any racial information.

According to public health experts, racial disparities are caused by transportation and work barriers as well as persistent reluctances and information gaps. It will be more difficult for parents without access to reliable transport to get their kids to appointments. Those without flexible work schedules or paid family leave may delay vaccinating their kids, and parents who do not speak English as a first language may not have access to information they need.

The breakdown of child COVID-19 vaccinations according to race in the handful of places where they are reported varies.

The rates of vaccination for white children were higher than those for Blacks in Washington, Connecticut, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. In New York City however, children under 13 years old are given vaccines at a lower rate than those of Latino or Black descent.

Connecticut’s 12-to-17-year olds are vaccinated at higher rates than Connecticut in rich, predominantly white communities.

In Hartford, Connecticut, 39% of children between 12 and 17 are fully vaccinated. According to the most recent state data update in November, 88% of West Hartford’s children are fully vaccinated.

Health equity is a priority for the White House. Last week, the coronavirus taskforce reported that there has been a reduction in the gap between the 194 million fully-vaccinated people and the nation’s racial population. Biden also stated that the administration is investing nearly $800million to help organizations work to improve vaccine confidence for low- and minority-income Americans.

In the news also:

► Maine set a record high for the number of people in a hospital due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

► New York state is expanding COVID booster eligibility to those who “feel at risk.”

► A Houston hospital has temporarily suspended a doctor for spreading false information about COVID-19 to her patients and on social media.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 764,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global summaries: There have been more than 253,000,000 cases worldwide and there has been 5.1 million deaths. More than 195 million Americans — 58.8% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

📘 What we’re reading: As doctors’ offices and pharmacies fill appointments fill to immunize children, parents across the country are looking forward to the freedoms their kids can enjoy after getting their shot. But the question of masking — especially in schools — still remains. 

This page is updated regularly so you don’t miss any new information. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox, and join our Facebook group.

After fighting COVID-19, Florida teacher in the center of ivermectin is killed

One of her patients, a Palm Beach County teacher who had been fighting for a hospital that would allow her to receive an unproven medication to help with worsening COVID-19 symptoms, has now died.

Tamara Drock (47), of Loxahatchee in Florida died on Friday from COVID complications 12 weeks after she was admitted to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center. Her husband stated that Tamara Drock had been there for treatment.

As she struggled with the disease, her husband, Ryan Drock, sued the hospital last month in an attempt to require it to administer ivermectin, a drug approved to treat conditions caused by parasitic worms but not COVID.

One of many cases across the country were closely followed to see if hospitals would be forced to prescribe the drug. The drug has become popular in conservative circles and is considered a possible treatment for grave forms of the condition.

The drug, though, isn’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat it. The federal agency says it hasn’t proved effective against COVID-19 in pre-clinical trials.

— Andrew Marra, Palm Beach Post

Contributing to The Associated Press

Source: USAToday.com

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