Teen COVID vaccination very low in some local communities

Oakwood and Washington Twp. near 67%, but most city of Dayton areas are 10-20%.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

COVID vaccination rates for children aged 12-17 vary dramatically within Montgomery County, with only 11% fully vaccinated in much of southwest Dayton and Jefferson Twp., while areas of Oakwood and Centerville are at 67%, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Local public health officials are pushing for more teens to get vaccinated as a surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations continues locally at the same time schools reopen everywhere.

“This Delta variant is much more contagious than other variants and is affecting kids in a stronger way,” said Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County. “Schools are now in-person, so we have more kids coming together in bigger settings, so that increases the chances for spread.”

Breakdown by area

The Ohio Department of Health data is organized by zip code, not by city or school district. As of Monday, it shows that 32.7% of kids age 12-17 in Montgomery County are fully vaccinated, while another 6% on top of that have had just their first dose.

The zip codes 45419 (Oakwood and part of Kettering) and 45458 (parts of Washington Twp. and Centerville) both show 67% of 12-17-year-olds with complete COVID vaccination.

The other zip codes over 50% vaccination for that age group are 45459 (Centerville) at 57%, 45409 and 45429 (much of Kettering and Oakwood) at 54%, and 45440 (east Kettering) at 51.6%.

At the other end of the scale, zip code 45417 — which includes pieces of Trotwood, Jefferson Twp. and much of southwest/west Dayton — had only 11% of kids age 12-17 fully vaccinated as of Monday (269 of 2,354 children).

The nine zip codes where less than 20% of 12-17-year-olds are completely vaccinated fell into two categories. They include two zip codes (45345 and 45309) that stretch up the rural west side of the county from New Lebanon past Brookville. And they include seven zip codes largely covering the city of Dayton and pieces of Trotwood and Jefferson Twp.

Vaccine hurdles

Suffoletto said Public Health knew from previous health disparity issues that some areas were less likely to jump at the opportunity to get the vaccine.

“There are certain areas where people are at a disadvantage due to socioeconomic issues, due to historical vaccine hesitancy, due to historical racism in health care where people may have distrust in the health care system,” he said. “We have our clinics in areas where people have transportation struggles (and) historical vaccine hesitancy, to make it as easy and convenient as possible.”

Suffoletto said Public Health is also working with some local influencers to do social media messaging in an attempt to “talk to youth in ways they’re responding to.”

And Public Health is now offering $100 gift cards for at least the first 1,000 people to get vaccinated at their rotating sites, which include the Montgomery County Fairgrounds on Thursday afternoon, and the Northwest Recreation Center on Friday morning.

At a Dayton Children’s Hospital COVID vaccine clinic last week, several teens and parents getting shots talked about their decision process.

“There’s like, half and half — people are like, ‘Oh yes, I already got my vaccine, I’m good,’” said Stebbins High School junior Joselin Nunez, 16. “And then there’s like the other side of the people who are like, ‘no, that’s not what I want.’”

Jenni Townsend’s daughter Brooklyn Cotton, a 15-year-old sophomore at Miamisburg, got her first dose at the same clinic.

“They were just waiting because, I mean, I think she’s been on the fence,” Townsend said. “And now she’s motivated by friends and things to do, not being quarantined in the house.”

Schools take role

Last spring, several school districts partnered with hospital groups and pharmacies to offer COVID vaccine clinics for students.

In late April, Dayton Children’s helped offer the vaccine to students in a half-dozen school districts, as well as some private and charter schools. Separately, Kettering schools had close to 700 students sign up quickly for their event in May, just after the vaccine was approved for those 12 and older.

But there has not been a rush of more vaccine clinics at schools this fall despite significant COVID outbreaks that led some schools to close.

Dayton, Centerville, Northmont, Oakwood, New Lebanon and Valley View — all of whom hosted vaccine clinics for students in the spring — said Wednesday there were no current plans to host another.

West Carrollton Assistant Superintendent Melissa Theis said her district’s summer vaccine clinic drew over 100 students, but a repeat clinic in mid-August attracted only 23 children.

Theis said despite the low turnout, the district will continue efforts to get more students vaccinated.

Montgomery County Educational Service Center Superintendent Shannon Cox said many schools may be waiting for vaccines to be approved for ages 5-12 to hold more clinics.

Mad River is one school district that is not waiting. They’re partnering with Premier Health to host a free COVID vaccine clinic for students age 12 and older at Stebbins High School, with busing arranged for middle schoolers who need it. The first dose is Sept. 21 and the second dose Oct. 12.

School spokeswoman Jenny Alexander said Mad River is trying to be proactive in getting students vaccinated to prevent both illness and the quarantines that have forced thousands of students across the region into remote learning.

COVID vaccination for age 12-17
Zip codeAge 12-17 populationPercent fully vaccinated
Source: Ohio Department of Health NOTE: Data for zip codes 45431 and 45432 were not available at press time.

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