The Perfect Enemy | Fact check: 1.4M children younger than 5 years old in US have received COVID-19 vaccine
December 9, 2022
Read Time:4 Minute

The claim: Only 325,000 young children out of 19 million in the US have received the COVID-19 vaccine

In June, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months old, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that young children get the shots.

The number of children that age who have been vaccinated remained low over the summer despite a steady rise in hospitalizations, USA TODAY reported.

But a post spreading on social media understates how many children have been vaccinated.

“Why did only 325,000 American kids out of 19,000,000 get the shot? Because of those of you BRAVE enough to tell the truth to your friends, family or neighbor,” reads a Sept. 23 Instagram post that received more than 5,000 likes in four days. “Why will several of them have long term disability or WORSE? Because of those of you COWARDS who knew, but did not say.”

The post mischaracterizes the vaccination figures on several fronts.

The post is attempting to refer to stats for children under 5, though it doesn’t spell that out. The 325,000 figure isn’t the number of children who have merely gotten a shot, it’s the number that have been fully vaccinated. More than one million children under 5 have received at least one shot, as have tens of millions of older children.

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USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.

Millions of children have received the COVID-19 vaccine

About 1.4 million American children ages 6 months to 4 years received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Sept. 21, according to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

There were about 18.8 million children younger than 5 in the U.S. as of July 1, 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

Children ages 5 to 11 have been able to get the vaccine since early November. About 10.7 million children that age have received at least one dose, while 8.8 million have had two doses.

The numbers climb even higher among the country’s oldest children. About 17.6 million children ages 12 to 17 have received at least one dose, and about 15 million have had two doses.

The vaccination rates among children in all age groups vary widely by state, the academy’s report says.

The pandemic hasn’t spared the country’s youngest children: two million children younger than 5 have been infected with COVID-19, including about 20,000 who had to be hospitalized and 200 who died, USA TODAY reported in June. Pfizer and Moderna each conducted trials during the pandemic that showed their vaccines were safe for young children.

USA TODAY has previously debunked many false claims about children and the COVID-19 vaccine, including baseless assertions that “more children will die” from the vaccine than the virus, that a children’s hospital expanded in anticipation of vaccine side effects and that Pfizer added a new heart attack-stopping chemical to children’s vaccines.

PolitiFact also debunked the claim.

Our rating: Partly false

Based on our research, we rate PARTLY FALSE the claim that only 325,000 young children out of 19 million in the U.S. have received the COVID-19 vaccine. While it’s true that about 325,000 children ages 6 months to 4 years in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, about 1.4 million children that age have received at least one dose, as have tens of millions of older children.

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