Just two weeks after COVID-19 vaccinations began for younger children, health officials say almost half of Berkeley kids between 5 and 11 have gotten at least their first shot.

As of Thursday, about 3,000 Berkeley 5- to 11-year-olds — 48.5% of the age group — were partially vaccinated, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard.

That’s more than four times the national vaccination rate for young children, who became eligible for shots earlier this month. A White House spokesman said Wednesday that an estimated 2.6 million kids between 5 and 11 nationwide, or about 10% of the age group, has gotten at least one shot.

Berkeley parents’ enthusiasm to get shots for their kids follows the city’s broader embrace of vaccines — 88% of residents across all age groups are at least partially vaccinated.

“Every vaccination helps our entire community by reducing the spread of COVID-19 and preventing severe disease and death,” Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez said in a statement Thursday. “These high rates of vaccination of young children are encouraging and reflect parents’ trust and believe in the power of vaccines.”

Mayor Jesse Arreguín cheered the rates during his State of the City event Wednesday night.

“Thank you to the parents for recognizing that vaccines are safe and effective, and (are) really critical for us to control the spread of COVID-19 and to help us get through this phase of the pandemic,” Arreguín said. “That’s a huge accomplishment — but we know that we have to continue to work to get everyone in our community vaccinated.”

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Nico Savidge joined Berkeleyside in 2021 as a senior reporter covering city hall. Born and raised in Berkeley, he got his start in journalism at Youth Radio as a high-schooler in the mid-2000s. Since then,...