Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution for children under 5 years old and to ensure families across the state have the information they need to access vaccines for their young children. Children are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus just like everyone else.

A vaccine for children between ages 6 months and 5 years could be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as soon as this weekend, and vaccinations in North Carolina could begin the week of June 20.

“We have never stopped working to ensure that vaccines are fast, fair and everywhere for North Carolinians,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “It is exciting that our best tool against COVID-19 – safe and effective vaccines – could soon be available to our youngest North Carolinians, and because of our preparation, on day one in all 100 counties.”

NCDHHS’ strategy for equitable vaccine distribution ensures vaccines will be available in all 100 North Carolina counties when the vaccine is authorized and recommended. All local health departments will receive vaccine, and more than 300 pediatric offices in North Carolina have enrolled to provide the vaccine and will be receiving shipments from NCDHHS over the next two weeks. Vaccine will also be available in family medicine offices. In addition, vaccines will be available in pharmacies for children 3 years and older.

Statewide communication efforts are also underway to provide families with information about COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5. NCDHHS is prepared to:

♦ Host statewide town halls in both English and Spanish shortly after the potential authorization to educate parents and families.

♦  Launch a digital, broadcast and social media education campaign that features health care providers and families that participated in clinical trials for the vaccine.

♦ Send a postcard to families who have children that may be eligible for the new vaccines.

♦ Add additional resources to the Spring into Summer campaign, which includes more than 280 organizations in more than 60 counties across the state sharing messages around vaccination.

♦  Distribute materials through its Healthier Together partnership, which works with community-based organizations throughout the state to reach historically marginalized communities.

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. Parents and guardians with questions about COVID-19 vaccines can also talk with their child’s health care provider.

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