Vaccines can keep kids in school after mask mandate lifts

As COVID-19 restrictions start to lift in Washington state, the latest data reveals that many children still need to be vaccinated. According to the Washington State Department of Health, less than 30% of children ages 5 to 11 years in Washington state are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  The rates improve with older children (53.7% for ages 12 to 15; 61.1% for ages 16 to 17), but lag behind all adult groups in the state.

Washington State Department of Health data published February 21, 2022.

UW Medicine pediatrician Dr. Beth Ebel is calling for families with unvaccinated children to begin their COVID-19 shot series before Washington’s mask mandate expires on March 12.

“As those masks come off, getting your child vaccinated is safe. It’ll protect them from getting COVID, and will help them stay in school with their friends so they can continue to learn,” said Ebel, who practices at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Appointments for vaccines and booster shots are widely available through UW Medicine.

“The vaccine has been shown to protect against kids getting really sick, and also spreading [COVID] to their families. That's a critical factor,” said Ebel. “The vaccine dose for younger kids between 5 and 11 is reduced. What we've also found is that even with that lower dose, those kids get a better antibody response, and presumably better protection than even adults. So, it's a good situation. They have fewer effects from getting the shot, and they get better protection.”

In King County, an updated data tool shows vaccinated and boosted people face much lower risk of a serious COVID-19 illness than do unvaccinated people.

Access broadcast-ready video assets with Ebel on vaccines for students.

Media contact:  Susan Gregg,

Written and produced by Zach Garcia, filmed by Randy Carnell, UW Medicine media relations. 

UW Medicine