HUDSON — Columbia County has one of the highest vaccination rates among people eligible to get the shots, health officials said

Columbia County is second only to Albany County for the highest vaccination rate among people ages 5 and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 74.9% of people 5 and older in Columbia County have been fully vaccinated.

“I think it’s about parents wanting to protect their kids,” Columbia County Department Director Jack Mabb said Tuesday. “We made it available in our pods but I think a lot of parents took their kids to pharmacies and I guess you could say I’m proud of them. People genuinely want them.”

Albany County has the highest rate with 75.8% of people 5 and older being fully vaccinated. The CDC reports that among each counties population 5 and older (those old enough to be eligible to receive the vaccine) Schenectady County is at 74.3%, Ulster County at 72.9%, Rensselaer County at 71.4%, Dutchess County ar 70.1%, Greene County at 62.9% and across the state line in Massachusetts, Berkshire County has 59.7% of people 5 and older vaccinated.

“We did much better with the 5-to-11 group than we did with the 12-to-18 initially,” Mabb said. “Initially we did a substantial number, I think it was 16% of the 12-to-18s right off the bat through the schools. But when we first went to the schools for the 5-to-11s, we did 22%. To some degree there’s a different philosophy in parenting, a lot of parents, when you have a 12-18 year old you give them the choice, and with the five-to-11 you don’t, it’s a different approach for parents there.”

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children 5-to-11 at the end of October of 2021. Prior to this, children under 12 could not receive a COVID vaccination. At the time, the FDA said it had found the immune response in children 5-to-11 to be comparable to individuals who were 16 to 25 years old, and the FDA said the vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 to 11.

The upcoming booster pods the Department of Health is holding Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 1-3 p.m. still have slots available for people to sign up, Mabb said. Thursday’s pod has 200 slots available and only about 50 people have registered so far.

“It’s also the first pod 12-18s are eligible for the booster,” Mabb said. “So its interesting were not getting as big of a response as I would have thought. Parents can sign their 12-to-18 year olds up for the pods now and get them boosted. That’s an area we need to do better in, the boosters overall.”

The CDC reports booster rates in Columbia County are much lower then the vaccination rates of people 5 and older.

In Columbia County, 43.4% of people who are fully vaccinated, or those who have received either two doses of Pfizer of Moderna or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot, received their booster shot so far.

“I was pretty surprised to see that and only like 63% of senior citizens have been vaccinated,” Mabb said. “We can definitely do better with all that.”

This lower booster rate is likely due in part to some people thinking the two shots were adequate to give them immunity, Mabb said.

“They’re not hearing what’s been talked about with the omicron, and the spread there, and how just getting a booster is more effective in terms of fighting things off,” Mabb said. “They’re not hearing it.”

People who have been fully vaccinated and received their booster shot can get COVID, Mabb said. Such breakthrough cases, though, are significantly less severe than positive cases in people who have not received the vaccination.

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