Massachusetts is a national leader in vaccinations, with extremely high percentages of people vaccinated among the oldest age groups and younger groups lagging but doing relatively well, compared with the national average.
One major obstacle for vaccination efforts? A group of about 884,000 people who have gotten zero shots. But don’t blame them: They’re children who are under the age of 12 and thus ineligible.
Here’s what the growth of vaccination percentages among different eligible age groups has looked like since March, according to state data.
The Department of Public Health says 95 percent of Massachusetts residents 65 to 69 and 70 to 74 years old, and 93 percent of residents 75 years and older have gotten at least one dose. (The state on Friday touted slightly different and even more encouraging data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said 99 percent of all people 65 and over in the state had received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine.)
The state data also show that more than 8 out of 10 people above the age of 30 have gotten at least one shot (83 percent for 30-39, 83 percent for 40-49, and 88 percent for 50-59). Meanwhile, 7 out of 10 or more of the people above the age of 12 have gotten at least one shot (70 percent for 12-15, 70 percent for 16-19, and 71 percent for 20-29).
While the vaccination percentages among the younger age groups lag those in the older age groups, they are still well ahead of the national averages for those age groups, according to the state.
What the chart leaves out is an estimated 884,000 children who are 0 to 11 years old and not eligible for vaccines, a significant chunk of the state’s population of 7 million.
The following bar chart shows the size of this unprotected group — many of whom were recently sent off to school by anxious parents — along with other age groups.
When will children be able to get vaccinated? For children who are 5 to 11 — a subset that the Department of Public Health says numbers about 515,000 kids — shots could soon be on the horizon.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the FDA who sits on the board of Pfizer, one of the vaccine makers, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “in a best-case scenario,” the Pfizer vaccine could be ready by Oct. 31 for younger children. “I have confidence in Pfizer in terms of the data that they’ve collected,” Gottlieb said.
Dr. James Versalovic, interim pediatrician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital, said he agreed with Gottlieb on the feasibility of an October approval. “We’re doing everything we can now to move these trials ahead,” he said.
The Reuters news service reported Friday that “two sources familiar with the situation,” said the Pfizer vaccine could be authorized by late October for children 5 to 11.
Compared with adults, children diagnosed with COVID-19 are more likely to have mild symptoms or none at all. Children also are far less likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease. But hospitalizations of children are rising as the more contagious Delta variant spreads. And some experts have raised concerns about children suffering long-term effects or “long COVID.”
Globe correspondent Maria Elena Little Endara contributed to this report. Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.
Martin Finucane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.