CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Vaccine providers in the Charlotte area are preparing to start giving COVID-19 shots to a whole new population. The FDA is reportedly set to grant emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds. Health experts in our area are anticipating teens could be able to get the shots as early as next week.
Atrium, Novant Health and the Mecklenburg County Health Department are all working on plans to get the vaccines out to 12 to 15-year-olds when the shots are approved and available to that group.
But as it is with adults, experts are expecting there to be some hesitancy.
“I am very excited that my own 12 and 14 years old will be able to hopefully get the vaccine next week,” Dr. Ashely Perrott with Novant Health said.
But that's not necessarily a popular opinion. A new poll finds there's some hesitancy, only 29% of parents say they plan to have their child vaccinated right away, once it is available.
“The bottom line is this is our greatest tool against prevention of spread, against death, against hospitalization and severe disease and against COVID," Dr. Amina Ahmed with Atrium Health said.
Experts insist Pfizer’s trials had all the necessary checks and balances.
“This is not that we are allowing our children to be guinea pigs with a new vaccine. It's been studied to understand the safety and efficacy of it,” Perrott said.
The rollout will look like it did for adults, 12- to 15-year-olds will be able to walk up to one of the vaccine clinics in the area.
Novant Health says select pediatric offices will be giving the shots too.
“I just want them to be able to return to the things they enjoy doing like school sporting events music concerts and those types of things without having to worry about possible infection,” Perrott said.
“This is an opportunity to get your child protected,” Ahmed said. “Even though we think that children have very mild disease overall, and they do thankfully, I will say there are some children that are severely affected."
More children are testing positive for COVID-19 because more and more of the adult population is getting the protection of the vaccine. Dr. Ahmed said the age group they see in the ICU most is younger teenagers.
Pfizer has reported the shots are 100% effective in adolescents, and the shots could help make this summer and next school year a bit more "normal."
“All of our kids have been so affected by COVID-19 this year, every part of their lives has been disrupted. So being able to be part of the solution and part of finding the answers to the questions we all have, our kids need to be part of that work too,” Dr. Christine Turley with Atrium Health said.
Atrium is now enrolling teens 12 to 17 to take part in the Novavax teens trial. They've been a part of the adult trials too.
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.
Even though Pfizer’s vaccine will likely be going into teenager's arms in a matter of days, Turley said having multiple vaccines is important.
“All along people have been asking well which one should I get? And the only way to have those choices is to continue to study different mechanisms of different vaccines and learn about how they work,” Turley said.
North Carolina law allows any minor to give consent for medical services meaning a 12- to 17-year-old would not need parent permission to get the shot.