This article has been updated to remove/correct data that was incorrectly applied.
As of earlier this month, about 16 percent of New Hampshire kids ages 5 to 11 had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, national health data show.
This is only slightly lower than the national rate for this age group, with 16.7 percent getting their first shot as of Dec. 5, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
For those 12 and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 70.7 percent of people nationwide were fully vaccinated as of Monday, and 83.1 percent had received the first dose.
More specific data for those inoculated between 5 and 11 from New Hampshire towns or counties — where about 56 percent of all residents are fully vaccinated statewide, and 61.9 percent have had at least one shot — is not available on the state health department's website or on federal health sites.
An article published in Tuesday's Sentinel mistakenly used county-by-county data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that includes all residents 5 and older, not just those 5 to 11. A request for county-by-county rates was not answered Tuesday by the state Department of Health and Human Services, but that information will be published when available.
That age group is eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was given emergency authorization Oct. 29 by the Food and Drug Administration. (The other two approved vaccines, by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are available only to those 18 and older.)
Clinical trials of Pfizer’s vaccine found it to be about 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in 5- to 11-year-olds, according to the FDA. No severe cases of the viral disease were found in those vaccinated during clinical trials, the agency says.
In addition to using a smaller needle for the age group, the dosage is one-third of that given to adults.
The authorization has been touted by local and federal health experts as an important one, with children often struggling more with safety protocols like hand washing and social distancing.
And with more people now eligible for inoculation, it's hoped it'll help bolster overall vaccination rates and, ultimately, keep kids safe.
Even though COVID-19 tends to be milder in children than adults, it can make children very sick, require hospitalization or even result in death, according to the CDC.
The state health department on Monday announced the first New Hampshire child known to have died from complications of the viral disease, according to a news release. The child, whose age was not specified, was not old enough to be vaccinated when they died in September, the release notes.
About 30 percent of all new COVID-19 infections in the Granite State are in people under 18, according to the release, which urges kids and adults alike to get vaccinated.
And while local health experts have said there is no crystallized number where vaccination rates should be, generally, the higher the better.
Tricia Zahn, director of the Greater Monadnock Public Health Network, said the organization — which oversees the region’s vaccination efforts — has been helping community members find the best vaccination option for them.
"Everyone is trying to do the right thing for themselves and their families based on the information and resources they have available to them," she said.
One option for inoculation is through the local hospitals.
Cheshire Medical Center in Keene had administered just over 1,200 shots for kids 5 to 12 as of Monday, according to spokeswoman Heather Atwell. The Dartmouth-Hitchcock affiliate has hosted four vaccine clinics just for kids since November, and is planning more in early 2022.
Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough did not respond to a request from The Sentinel for that figure, or additional comment on the subject.
School-based vaccination clinics are another way the public health network is meeting people where they are, Zahn said, with several conducted already at area districts.
Pop-up clinics — which typically offer several types of shots, like boosters and kids’ doses — have also occurred throughout December at the network and at Cheshire Medical, with more planned in the coming months. Those dates aren’t set yet, according to Cheshire Medical spokesman Matthew Barone.
The network is also continuing to educate the public on the importance of getting vaccinated and debunk any misinformation that could be circulating, according to Zahn, and she encouraged others to do the same.
"The best thing individuals in the community can do is connect with people in their lives and let them know they are important and needed," she said. "Do your best to have a conversation with them to understand their concerns and ... help them access a COVID-19 vaccine."
To schedule a vaccination appointment for pharmacies, hospitals and other health agencies, visit vaccines.nh.gov or call the state’s hotline at 2-1-1.
Schools interested in hosting a vaccination clinic can contact Jane Parayil of the Greater Monadnock Public Health Network at email@example.com.