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Charlotte-area vaccine providers preparing for younger children to be eligible for COVID-19 shots

The FDA panel is set to meet to discuss the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 on Oct. 26.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states to prepare for an entirely new population of people to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. An FDA panel is set to discuss Pfizer's data on the clinical trials in kids ages 5 to 11 on Oct. 26. If the FDA and CDC give it the green light, there could be a huge increase in demand for shots.

The country has purchased enough doses to vaccinate that population as local vaccine providers prepare to expand access.

Health experts in the Charlotte area have been expecting and waiting for this, plans are in motion and many local doctors are excited about the possibility of having another population protected.

“From the preliminary studies that have been released, it looks very, very good so far,” Dr. Daniel Donner with Novant Health said. “To the point where it looks just as good if not better at a lower dose in creating immunity in children 5 to 11. And it also seems to have less side effects too.”

Most kids who get COVID-19 have a mild case. But with more of the older population vaccinated, there are more cases among young kids.

The latest data in Mecklenburg County shows that in the last two weeks 14.3% of new COVID-19 cases have been in kids 9 or younger and 9.5% in kids 10 to 14.

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Having more of them vaccinated could have a positive impact on the entire community.

“It is very hopeful that if we get enough people vaccinated then there will be a lot less people getting sick. Almost to the point where eventually we may be able to roll back masks and social distancing,” Donner said.

The FDA meeting is set for October 26, but it is only the first step of the process. Local doctors expect it could be approved and ready to give out by Thanksgiving.

There have been vaccine clinics in CMS schools in the past and some primary care and pediatric offices have the vaccines to give in a setting that would likely make a child more comfortable.

Local vaccine providers getting ready to meet any increase in interest.

“We're just incredibly proud that vaccine is just widely available in so many different locations. We have been looking for different options we've been working closely with our partners and are prepared to set up additional sites if the demand is there,” Dr. Meg Sullivan, the Mecklenburg County Medical Director said.

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The Mecklenburg County Health Department is having a vaccine clinic on Saturday October 15 at the Billingsley Road health department location. It runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and they will have the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer products.

People who qualify for the Pfizer booster can get it.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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