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Mecklenburg County pauses COVID booster distribution after CDC approval

Mecklenburg County health leaders said they're temporarily pausing COVID-19 booster distribution until they receive the newest version approved by federal agencies.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County's health department will pause COVID-19 booster shot distribution until the county receives the newest version approved by the CDC, county officials said Friday. 

The new booster, which was developed to target newer, more common strains of COVID-19 including the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, is expected to be delivered next week. Until then, COVID-19 boosters won't be administered by Mecklenburg County Public Health. 

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With vaccination rates still trailing among minority residents, the health department has been going door to door in an effort to ensure equal access to vaccines. Action NC has partnered with Mecklenburg County Public Health to educate concerned neighbors about the safety of the vaccine. 

“Five days a week we’re still out talking to people about COVID," Robert Dawkins with Action NC said. "The popular misconception is since this strain has been less serious than the original strain that it’s something not to worry about."

Click here for a list of Mecklenburg County COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

The tweaked shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna offer Americans a chance to get the most up-to-date protection at yet another critical period in the pandemic. They’re combination or “bivalent” shots — half the original vaccine and half protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron versions now causing nearly all COVID-19 infections.

The CDC's advisers struggled with who should get the new booster and when because only a similarly tweaked vaccine, not the exact recipe, has been studied in people so far.

The new updated shots are only for use as a booster, not for someone's first-ever vaccinations. The Food and Drug Administration cleared Pfizer's bivalent option for people 12 and older while Moderna's is for adults only. 

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