AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – While kids may still be enjoying summertime fun, school will be back in session soon. And for those five and younger, filing into daycare and Pre-K, it may be year-round, putting them at risk for COVID.

“For the age range of under four or under five, COVID is a leading cause of death,” said Medical College of Georgia’s Dr. Rodger MacArthur, who works in Infectious Diseases.

He told NewsChannel 6 coronavirus deaths across the country among children are low compared to everyone, with that count totaling 1 Million to about 500 or less who are five and younger.

Look at the provisional COVID-19 death counts by age in years here.

In Georgia, there are less than 20 deaths and 5 in South Carolina from COVID. Infection rates are in the tens of thousands for our youngest Georgians and South Carolinians. Hospitalizations are in the hundreds. DHEC reports, “We’ve known since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that the virus has less of an impact on children, and the numbers have consistently reflected this fact.” 

Along with the CDC, it recommends the COVID vaccine for people five and younger, calling them safe and effective. Dr. MacArthur does too.

“The vaccine that’s being used in kids covers the same strain, or was developed with the same original strain as the vaccine that is being used in adults, whether it’s a Moderna vaccine or a Pfizer vaccine,” he said.

Below is statistics from AU Health from December 1, 2021 to July 2022:

As with adult vaccines, Dr. MacArthur said they do not cover variants, but are safe, offering about 40 to 60 percent effectiveness, which is the same as the flu shot. DHEC added that since the vaccine was just made available to younger kids last month, there is no impact on their COVID number yet.

Where can children 5 and younger get the vaccine in South Carolina, specifically in the Aiken County area? 

DHEC reports residents interested in getting their child vaccinated can visit our vaccine locator and find a location near them. Linked off the vaccine locator home page is a list of providers giving vaccines to 6 month to 5 year old children. Residents are also encouraged to call their child’s pediatrician or primary care provider and ask if they have the vaccine available. 

Georgia Department of Public Health reports it is best for parents to call the health department to set up an appointment for the vaccine.   When scheduling the vaccine appointment, inform the Health Department a child under 6 years of age will vaccinated.

As far as children being vaccinated (data from CDC):

  1. COVID-19 vaccination is safe for children 6 months and older.
  2. Getting vaccinated can help protect children against COVID-19.
  3. Children may have some mild effects after COVID-19 vaccination, but the effects are similar to all routine vaccines.
  4. Children receive a smaller dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than teens and adults.
  5. Children who have already had COVID-19 should still get vaccinated.
  6. Children can safely receive other vaccines the same day they receive their COVID-19 vaccine. This means that when children are getting all the vaccines to return to school, they can also get the COVID-19.

We also reached out to local school districts across the two state and asked about the district’s policy when schools learn that one student has tested positive for COVID, specifically if entire classrooms will need to isolate. We also asked will vaccination cards be required in the future.

Columbia County School District reported: “We have not confirmed plans for the new school year at this time, however, no proof of COVID vaccination is required.”

Richmond County School System reported: “The Richmond County School System is working with the Georgia Department of Public Health to update its COVID-19 response practices for the 2022-2023 school year.  Once finalized, updated information will be shared with all school system families and staff. We have never required vaccination cards.”