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Niagara County reports only a quarter of young people vaccinated against COVID

A point-of-dispensing exercise in a Royalton-Hartland school gymnasium.
Niagara County Health Department
/
Facebook
A point-of-dispensing exercise in a Royalton-Hartland school gymnasium.

As everywhere else, COVID is flowing in Niagara County, with 17 deaths in the last week alone. Overall, around 70% of the total population of Niagara is vaccinated, but only one-quarter of them are aged 5-11.

"Five to 11 is not eligible yet for the booster, but they are eligible for their first two doses of Moderna and Pfizer. About 28% of our 5-11 year-olds are vaccinated," said county Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton.

Currently, older siblings are vaccinated at a much higher rate: around 80% for 18-year-olds.

Stapleton said his staff still goes out and runs vaccination clinics, although many fewer people show up than in the early days of the pandemic.

"We do see a lot of parents come in. Families come in. They come in to our clinics," he said. "Parents might be coming in for their booster and their children coming in for their first dose. But the numbers definitely aren't where they were in the beginning and when we first were doing these clinics, back year-and-a-half ago, almost two years ago. We were doing over 3,000 people a day in a 5-and-a-half-hour period."

He said he and his staff are also seeing parental objections.

"I was interviewed by a small group of teenagers. I think they were all 15. And they interviewed me because of my job," Stapleton said. "I asked them — there were four of them, I think — I asked them, are you young men vaccinated? And they all said no. Some of them they weren't because their parents didn't want them to be vaccinated. They told me they want to. We've seen that."

Stapleton suspected this pandemic — like others do — is gradually turning endemic and won't go away. That could mean annual boosters.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.