FENTRESS COUNTY, Tenn. — Nearly 18,000 children ages 5 to 9 have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health.
None of them are from Fentress, Hancock, or Union counties. Other rural counties in the state are reporting few or no vaccinations as well.
"Although we know there are a lot of parents who are ready to get their kids vaccinated, we know there are parents who still have questions," White House Vaccinations Coordinator Dr. Bechara Choucair said. Those are legitimate questions. Getting your kid vaccinated is an important decision."
In Grainger County, just 11 children ages 5 to 9 have received at least one dose. Claiborne and Monroe counties have reported 15 and 16 vaccinations respectively.
In total, more than half of Tennessee's 95 counties have reported fewer than two dozen vaccinations among kids 5 to 9 in the two weeks since the Pfizer shot was authorized for that age group.
In Knox County, more than 2,000 children ages 5 to 9 have already received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That's roughly 7.5% of all kids in that age group; one of the highest rates in the state so far.
Other counties with high vaccination rates include Williamson, Davidson, Washington, and Hamilton counties. None exceed the national average.
"By the end of the day [Wednesday], we estimate 2.6 million kids have gotten their first shot," Dr. Choucair said. That's nearly 10 percent."
Roughly 4.6% of children 5 to 9 in Anderson County have received at least one dose; the same is true for 3.6% of kids in Blount County.
Hundreds of providers across Tennessee are offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, including a number of pediatrician offices, pharmacies, and hospitals.
"We're encouraging parents to talk to their pediatrician, talk to their family physician, ask their questions so that they can get the facts," Dr. Choucair said. I have no doubt, access and confidence, that's what's going to get us to get a lot more kids vaccinated in the weeks to come."
East Tennessee Children's Hospital is not yet offering the vaccine, but recommended parents contact their pediatrician.
We have a list of places offering the vaccines here.