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VERIFY: Does Virginia have the highest childhood vaccination rate among southern states?

WUSA9 verifies a popular online post about childhood vaccinations in the DMV.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A recent social media post has caused quite a stir in Virginia, particularly among parents. The post claims Virginia has the highest rate of vaccinated kids ages 5 to 11 among all southern states. 

But is it accurate? The Verify team took the question straight to the experts. 

QUESTION:

When it comes to the fight against COVID-19, does Virginia have the highest childhood vaccination rate in the South?

SOURCES:

The CDC
USA Facts - a nonpartisan, not-for-profit data-driven group
Natalie Talis - population health manager for the Alexandria Health Department

WHAT WE FOUND:

A health manager with the Alexandria Health Department told Verify that 25% of kids ages 5 to 11 received their first dose of the vaccine in Virginia.

"When we narrow in even further and look at the city of Alexandria, we see that more than one out of three kids, ages 5 to 11, have already gotten their first dose," Natalie Talis said. 

That’s an important number as Talis said Alexandria has returned to a high rate of community transmission. 

 “Even just the last few days, we've seen about 40 to 50 new cases per day in our community and that's really concerning,” she said. “Now, the good news is that we have a really high overall vaccination at 77% of our residents received at least one shot.”

USA Facts compiles and visualizes CDC data. According to their data, northeast and west coast states have the highest childhood vaccination rates in the country, with a record high in Vermont at 41%. USA Facts says the percentage of children who received at least one COVID shot drops dramatically the further south you go.

As of November, Virginia's vaccination rate for that age group sits at 24.8%.

Here is the current data (as of November) in states surrounding Virginia:

  • Maryland: 22.3%
  • North Carolina: 14.2%
  • Tennessee: 7.4%
  • Kentucky: 11.1%
  • West Virginia: 3.5%

Talis credits the Virginia Health Department’s public awareness campaign with the higher numbers.  

“Making that information, education and access widely available has really helped,” she said. 

WUSA9 checked in with each state's health department website for the latest numbers. Virginia is now at 25%, but as of Tuesday night, Maryland squeaked past the Commonwealth, clocking in at 25.01%. 

So we can verify that in November, Virginia did have the highest childhood vaccination rate among all southern states. But now Maryland has slightly higher numbers. 

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