CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wednesday, the first kids under 5 in the Charlotte area got their COVID-19 vaccines. Last weekend the FDA and CDC gave final approvals to both Moderna and Pfizer’s shot for young children and now local providers are rolling them out.
StarMed Healthcare originally ran into some unexpected delays getting a supply of the Pfizer vaccine, but received it by Wednesday afternoon when they were already taking appointments and giving the Moderna vaccine.
“It’s one more opportunity to protect your family and protect your community. Certainly, the tests have proven that even if you do become sick, it's much less of an illness, but everything we can do to end this pandemic, this is another opportunity to reduce the threat,” Chris Dobbins with StarMed said.
He said demand was steady and appointments are booked through the end of the month. Unlike with adults, they are doing the appointments inside of the clinic and not in a drive-thru style.
Both vaccines have been approved for children as young as 6 months old. Pfizer's vaccine was previously authorized for kids 5 and older, while Moderna's vaccine was authorized for adults only in the U.S.
“We’re just grateful to have the opportunity. We’ve been very sheltered and keeping them at home and safe and ready to start getting back out,” Rachel Outlaw said after getting her kids vaccinated.
Many parents out on the first day feeling relieved as they left.
“We have travel plans and were going to see grandparents and even though the numbers have come down they’re still high so as were traveling we just wanted to make sure he had an added layer of production just like we all do,” Katie Johnson said.
Her 3-year-old son was the only one in the family who could not be vaccinated up until this point.
Just like with past age groups, doctors are expecting some hesitancy among parents and are encouraging them to speak with their pediatrician.
“We know there’s a huge benefit to vaccination, that’s why your kids have gotten so many vaccines before," Dr. Cameron Webb with the White House COVID-19 Task Force told WCNC Charlotte. "But COVID is in the top 5 causes of death for under the age of 5 and for kids under the age of 1. So, it’s not something that we can write off."
Providers are not anticipating any issues with supplies. But they are expecting some anxiety among parents and kids and many are taking a different approach to the rollout.
“For kids under 5, they’re the most used to getting shots of any age range we’ve aimed to vaccinate yet. And so, they also have places they typically do so, so this is going to be a vaccination campaign that largely plays out in practitioners' offices. Family doctors, pediatricians, public health offices,” Webb said.
Many parents will have an option on what shot their child gets. The Pfizer shot is a three-dose series while Moderna’s is two.
“Think about the practical considerations but the truth of the matter is whichever one your pediatrician’s office is offering, could be really important to keep your kids safe, so it’s more important to get a shot rather than which shot they get,” Webb said.
There are plenty of places to get the shots in the area. They’ll be available at the two Mecklenburg County Health Department locations starting Thursday. Atrium Health is already offering appointments at their offices while Novant Health expects to release plans soon. Pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS are also offering them.
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