With children ages 5-11 newly eligible for the Covid vaccine, Gov. Roy Cooper declared that getting your young children vaccinated is “the responsible thing to do.”

“The responsible thing to do, when you’ve got all these clinical trials that have occurred, when you know the risk for your children, is to go ahead and make sure your children are vaccinated,” he added.

In urging people to vaccinate young children, DHHS secretary Mandy Cohen declared “Kids are vulnerable to COVID-19… While kids do get it less often and get less sick, we did see a lot of kids unfortunately get very sick and sometimes have lasting effects of COVID. What we’re seeing from a risk perspective is that the vaccine is safe, with no serious side effects. And the benefits are protecting my child from what could be bad outcomes from COVID-like hospitalization.”

So, what are the risks to children? How “vulnerable” are they to Covid and suffering “bad outcomes” from Covid hospitalizations?

A great resource is NC Covid Facts, a project of the Locke Foundation. While data specific to children ages 5-11 is not available, the figures from NC DHHS are nevertheless informative about Covid risks to children.

For example, the case fatality rate for children in North Carolina is .0038%, just under four one-hundredth of one percent, a survival rate of 99.996%. This measures the percent of confirmed cases in children that end in death.

Perhaps a better measure of Covid’s threat is the infection fatality rate (IFR), which measures the percent of Covid infections in children that result in death. Using CDC estimates that only 1 in 4.2 infections are actually confirmed by lab testing, we can project an IFR in North Carolina of .00096%, for a survival rate of 99.9991% – or roughly 9 in one million cases result in a fatality.

What about the threat of hospitalization from Covid? Further digging into the DHHS data shows that 0.57% of confirmed cases in children have resulted in hospitalization, less than six-tenths of one percent. This translates into about 0.14% of infections resulting in hospitalization, meaning that 9,986 of 10,000 Covid infections in children do not require hospitalizations. (these figures are from Oct. 4, 2020 thru Oct. 11, 2021, representing the data available from DHHS)

More perspective on “the risk for your children” posed by Covid are included on the NC Covid Facts page, and include:

  • According to a July 2021 New Yorker magazine article, the “risk of severe disease or hospitalization is about the same” between COVID and the seasonal flu.
  • Twice as many U.S. children died of pneumonia than died of COVID over the past year.
  • One CDC study found the infection fatality rate for children aged 5-9 to be .001%, lower than that of the flu.
  • According to the New Yorker article, “(I)n 2019, more than 2,000 American kids and teenagers died in car crashes,” nearly 6.5 times as many than died from COVID. Yet parents don’t hesitate to put their kids on school buses without seat belts driven by strangers with no hesitation to the risk.

Decisions over your children’s health and medical treatment are yours. Cooper and Cohen encourage parents to know the risks for their children regarding Covid. This post provides more context and data regarding those risks.