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These two age groups in NC are under-vaccinating for their population share

Vaccinations have been on the decline again in North Carolina, but state data shows two age groups are underperforming in their COVID-19 shots.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Health officials are tracking a concerning vaccination trend, as the Carolinas head into the holiday season. Data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows sagging COVID-19 shot rates over the last four weeks after they caught a boost over the summer.

That data shows two age groups are underperforming in vaccinations, relative to their share of the population size. Those 12 to 17 years old make up 8% of North Carolina's population and are 6% of the vaccinated population. People 18 to 24 years old are 9% of the state population and 8% of the vaccinated population.

According to the data, vaccine demand among 12- to 17-year-olds has been tapering off since May, when Pfizer's emergency use authorization was amended to include those as young as 12. 

In the first couple weeks of authorization, 12- to 17-year-olds made up nearly one-third of weekly vaccinations in the state. Now, they are one-tenth of weekly shots.

Credit: NCDHHS

South Carolina health officials are noting a leveling in demand too.

"There has been some plateauing," Dr. Jane Kelly, assistant state epidemiologist with South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control, said. "I think there was an initial surge of people getting vaccinated in that age group as part of back-to-school. Some of that has slowed down, but we continue to have people trickle in."

Kelly points to some good news in the vaccination numbers: the rates among the most at-risk age group. She reports more than 75% of those 65 years and older are vaccinated. In North Carolina, more than 91% of those 65 and older are at least partially vaccinated.

North Carolina health officials have made the move online to try to reach kids.

With TikTok influencers, and its Teenvaxfacts.com site, NCDHHS is hoping to spark up that urgency and excitement, like seventh-grader Cassie Black expressed when she get her shot back in May.

"My whole family has gotten it. So, I wanted to be with them and we can travel easier and I'm really excited," Black told WCNC Charlotte on the day of her vaccination.

A new group of children could soon be eligible for a COVID-19 shot. An FDA advisory panel meets in three weeks to discuss lowering Pfizer's emergency use age to 5 years old.