A Verywell Report: What Will Kids’ COVID Vaccination Rates Look Like by Summer?

Kids illustration

Dennis Madamba / Verywell

As kids continue to get vaccinated, the share of the U.S. population immunized against COVID-19 could increase from 65% to over 68% by June, projections by Verywell show. 

That number could be higher if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes the Pfizer vaccine for children under 5 years old or the Moderna vaccine for children under 6 years old.

In the meantime, kids aged 5 to 11, who have been eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since October 2021, play an important role in pushing the U.S. closer to 70% vaccination, the low end of the range Anthony Fauci, MD, said is needed to reach herd immunity. Full vaccination among kids in that age group is projected to increase from today’s figure of 27.5% to 32% by June, according to Verywell’s analysis.

Over 60% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 are on track to be fully vaccinated by June. They’ve been eligible for Pfizer’s vaccine since May of 2021.

The only vaccine authorized for use in people under the age of 18 is Pfizer.

Vaccine Uptake in Kids Remains Slow

Uncertainty surrounding the proper vaccine dosage and delays in authorizing its use in children under 5 created some obstacles to boosting vaccination rates among the younger crowd.

In February, Pfizer delayed its request for FDA authorization in order to collect more data on whether a third dose would be necessary for the 6-month to 4-year-old age group. Recent studies have shown that the vaccine may be less effective in kids 5 to 11 than in those aged 12 to 17, raising the question of whether the dosage should be higher for young kids. Right now, kids under 12 receive a 0.2 milliliter dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Those 12 and over receive 0.3 milliliter doses.

Meanwhile, Moderna plans to ask the FDA to authorize its vaccine in children under 6 years old after promising results from a clinical trial. The intended dosage for kids under 6 is a quarter of the size of Moderna's adult dosage. At this time, nobody under age 18 is eligible for Moderna’s vaccine.

Using the rate of vaccination for the past four weeks to predict trends for the coming months, our analysis projects seven states will reach 70% full vaccination among both 5- to 11- and 12- to 17- year-olds by June 1. No states have reached that threshold among all children yet, though nine states have reached 70% vaccination among 12 to 17 year olds, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Verywell made similar projections in November, predicting that 65% of the population would be vaccinated by the start of 2022. Just over 62% ultimately were vaccinated by January 1, CDC data shows. A lower-than-anticipated vaccination rate among children 12 to 17—a 3% increase between November and January, lower than Verywell’s predicted 5% increase—contributed to the lower overall vaccination increase.

What Will It Take to Increase Vaccination Rates by Summer?

The longer vaccines are available, the less hesitant parents are to vaccinate their children, one study from the Children’s Hospital of Chicago found. The researchers conducted surveys of parents in the Chicago area on vaccine sentiment, one in May to July 2020, another in November 2020 to February 2021, and a third in May to July 2021.

“As vaccines become available, the percent [of parents] who's interested in getting that vaccine for their child has actually gone up,” Jennifer Kusma, MD, a pediatrician and coauthor of the study. “That makes us feel hopeful that as these vaccines roll out more and more people will be interested in getting it, or hopefully, some of that hesitancy or concern we can help alleviate as we just have more information.”

At this phase of vaccine development and distribution, uncertainty is natural, Stanley Plotkin, MD, who served as a consultant to COVID vaccine manufacturers and played a key role in the creation of the rubella vaccine, told Verywell.

“Decisions are made after an accumulation of data,” he said. 

In a 2021 article in the journal Pediatrics, Plotkin said that if pediatric trials proved COVID-19 vaccines to be safe in children, vaccination should be mandatory.

“The only way vaccination works on a large scale is as mandatory vaccination,” he said. “That’s a lesson that we’ve learned over the years with routine pediatric vaccination.”

What This Means For You

A larger share of vaccinated kids this summer means safer camps, safer vacations, and ultimately, a safer school year in the fall. But moving the needle on kids’ vaccination rates depends on FDA authorizations for younger age groups.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pfizer-BioNTech. Fact sheet for healthcare providers administering vaccine.

  2. Moderna. Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC vaccination tracker.

  4. Kusma JD, Heffernan ME, Alfieri NL, et al. Update on youth COVID-19 vaccines in Chicago. Voices Child Health Chicago Rep. 2022;4(2).

  5. Plotkin SA, Levy O. Considering mandatory vaccination of children for COVID-19. Pediatrics. 2021;147(6):e2021050531. doi:10.1542/peds.2021-050531

By Julia Ingram
Julia Ingram is a news reporter specializing in data analysis and visualization.