By Rachell Sanchez-Smith
Children under age 18 represent 30% of active COVID-19 cases, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday at his weekly press conference.
The delta variant of the virus, far more contagious than the original strain, combined with Arkansas’ low vaccination rate are major factors responsible for the surge in cases. Children under age 12 are vulnerable since they are not eligible to receive the vaccine at this time.
Approval for the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12 was initially expected by the late fall. Still, because of the rigorous hurdles for emergency authorization, the timeline has been pushed later, amid increasing trial sizes by request of the Federal Drug Administration, according to the Washington Post.
“We do not expect to see vaccines for that group until the later part of this year at the earliest,” Dr. Jose Romero, Secretary of Health for the ADH, said Tuesday. Only 9.8% of children under 18 in Arkansas are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Mayo Clinic reported, further fueling the virus surge.
Meanwhile, children ages 11 to 17 saw a 75.3% increase in the number of cases according to an Arkansascovid.com analysis of ADH data from July 31, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2021.
Children ages 10 and under experienced an 34.5 % increase in COVID-19 cases from July to August, according to ADH data.