Damakant Jayshi

The number of parents willing to get their children vaccinated has risen compared to last month, survey results from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed.

The KFF survey published on Thursday comes an amidst increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin and Marathon County. At present, 21 counties in the state are in the ‘Critically High’ category, up from eight on Sept. 28, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

According to the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, a third of parents (34%) say they will vaccinate their 5-11-year-old child “right away” once a vaccine is authorized for their age group. This is up from 26% in the last survey. The September survey also showed that 32% of the parents are in ‘wait and see’ mode, 7% say they will vaccinate their child ‘if required,’ while quarter of the parents said they definitely won’t get their children vaccinated against COVID-19. The bulk of the interviews were conducted before Pfizer announced, on Sept. 20, that their COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective for children ages 5-11.

Meanwhile, Pfizer submitted data to the FDA for vaccination in 5-11-year-old children, and said the company will seek emergency use authorization in the coming weeks. If the FDA grants the EUA, which is expected, then children in that category could be eligible for shots by Halloween. Nearly half (48%) of parents of children ages 12-17 say their child has received at least one dose of a vaccine. Children ages 12-17 are eligible for vaccines but those in the 5-11 age category are not.

On indoor masking, about seven in 10 mothers and vaccinated parents say schools should require all students and staff to wear mask while at school. A majority of parents (58%) say K-12 schools should require masks while at school while about a third (35%) say schools should have no mask requirements at all.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Marathon County Health Department, Wisconsin Depart of Public Instruction and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) all recommend indoor masking in school, regardless of vaccination status.

Meanwhile, a CDC study on more than 1,000 schools in two Arizona counties that account for more than 75% of the state’s population showed that schools with mask requirements had fewer outbreaks of COVID-19 than those without.

“During July 15–August 31, 2021, 191 school-associated outbreaks occurred, 16 (8.4%) in schools with early mask requirements, 62 (32.5%) in schools with late mask requirements, and 113 (59.2%) in schools without a mask requirement,” the CDC study said, adding “the odds of a school-associated COVID-19 outbreak in schools with no mask requirement were 3.7 times higher than those in schools with an early mask requirement.”

Another CDC study conducted in 520 counties across the United States showed that schools without mask requirements experienced larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates after the start of school compared with counties that had school mask requirements.

The New York Times first reported on both studies on Sept. 24. Three scholars, including an infectious disease expert, wrote in the Times that their research showed masks work to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 . They recommended surgical and other high quality masks for best results.

Damakant Jayshi is a reporter for Wausau Pilot & Review. He is also a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of GroundTruth Project that places journalists into local newsrooms. Reach him at damakant@wausaupilotandreview.com.