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Experts say most new COVID-19 cases affecting young people more

Health officials warn the age of those hardest hit by COVID-19 is beginning to shift lower, to a younger demographic

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The COVID-19 hit seniors in the Charlotte community hardest but health officials are now worried about a new trend: the age of those hit hardest by the pandemic is shifting younger

Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said the disturbing shift comes after weeks of declines.

"There are a lot of infections happening right now," Jha said, noting that COVID-19 cases across the country are starting to rise. 

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It's not as high as the winter surge, which saw more than 300,000 new cases each day, but right now the average is at just over 60,000 cases per day. The shift to younger people getting the virus more commonly now is happening on a wider scale as well. 

Part of the worry also involves a potential explosion of cases as more people travel to destinations like Florida for spring break trips, a state that has the nation's highest count of new virus variants.

"We do see that the average age of hospitalizations has shifted to a younger demographic, and that's national," NBC News Medical Contributor Dr. Kavita Patel said.

This makes efforts to roll out more vaccines crucial. 

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the push to get more shots into more arms is his top priority; about 29% of the state's population is at least partially vaccinated. 

"We're going to do everything we can to reach every single person," Cooper said. "For the protection of their family, their friends, and everybody, that everybody needs to step up and get a vaccine."

RELATED: WCNC Charlotte's COVID-19 vaccine resource page

Commissioner Stacey Phillips announced the vaccination process is about to get easier in Huntersville; a vaccine clinic will be held on Wednesday, April 7, at the Waymer Center to get more shots to those who haven't been able to get one.

To help boost vaccination rates, Facebook has also joined in on the push, rolling out a new vaccine profile frame for users to show support for vaccination on the social network.

Soon, a summary of friends using the frame will also show up on newsfeeds for everyone.

Efforts like this are aimed at combating an issue Cooper says has hindered vaccine response: disinformation.

"With all of this disinformation about vaccines out there, we really need to work hard now as we're turning the corner of the pandemic," he said.

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.

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