Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — Children ages 6 months and older in North Carolina can now receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all children who are eligible receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is available in North Carolina following the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization and the CDC’s recommendation.

“Many parents and families have been eagerly awaiting a vaccine to protect our youngest North Carolinians,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “These vaccines are the best way to protect children from COVID-19 — they are safe, effective and free.”

Children ages 6 months to younger than 5 get a smaller vaccine dose than any other age group. This vaccine dose differs from the vaccine that was previously authorized for children ages 5 to 11. Booster shots are currently not authorized for children in this age group.

As with all routine vaccinations for children, these vaccines were tested and reviewed by the FDA and the CDC and their independent scientific committees to ensure they are safe for children. Results from ongoing clinical trials that began in March 2021 showed the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines were safe and effective to protect children ages 6 months to under 5 years from COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for three doses, while the Moderna will initially begin as two. Moderna is currently testing their third dose, with data expected this summer.

There were no safety concerns or serious side effects noted in the clinical trials for either vaccine.

The first wave of shipments is expected to arrive in North Carolina on June 20. NCDHHS recommends that parents and guardians contact their child’s pediatrician, medical provider, or local health department for more details on when the vaccine may become available. Call ahead to confirm the vaccine will be available before visiting a health care provider.

Children between the ages of 3 and 5 have the option of getting vaccinated at a pharmacy or grocery store in addition to a doctor’s office or local health center. Children under 3 years are not able to be vaccinated by a pharmacist. Parents and guardians of children who do not have an established medical provider can visit MySpot.nc.gov to search for a nearby vaccine provider.

Children may be able to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and other routine shots they are due for at the same visit. This is also a good time for them to get a routine checkup.

Children may experience temporary and minimal side effects. These side effects are similar to adults – a sore arm, headache and being tired or achy for a day or two.

According to the CDC, children under 5 had the highest rate of hospitalizations compared to other pediatric groups. COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalization, death, MIS-C (inflammation in different parts of the body) and long-term problems with symptoms that last for months. Vaccines will help reduce infections and transmission, bringing all North Carolinians closer to fewer family disruptions ahead of the summer months and school year.

Everyone ages 6 months and older can receive a free COVID-19 vaccine, even if they don’t have health insurance and regardless of their immigration status. Parents and guardians with questions about COVID-19 vaccines should talk with their child’s physician.

North Carolina’s actions are based on recommendations from the CDC. Read the CDC’s full statement HERE.

LEARN MORE

For more information about how vaccines for children work and where you can find a vaccination appointment nearby, visit MySpot.nc.gov. The North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center can also help you make an appointment by calling 888-675-4567. The help center is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends.

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