‘A pathway to getting back to normal’: Concord mom explains why her 12-year-old will get COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - On Monday, the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorization to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children between 12 and 15 years old.

On Wednesday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to vote on it. Then, the CDC is expected to approve the recommendation.

Once that happens, local vaccine providers in North Carolina are waiting for the green light from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services before beginning to administer the shots to this age group.

Doctors say parents should bring up any concerns they may have with their child’s pediatrician.

Health experts say, although the timeline was sped up, the shot was thoroughly studied among children in this age group.

More than 22,000 children between 12 and 15 years of age participated in the clinical trial.

Data shows no children who got the vaccine through the trial, contracted the virus.

“It’s a pathway to getting back to normal and being able to do some things that she might not be able to do quite as easily now,” Concord parent Jennifer Walker told WBTV.

Walker said she will sign her 12-year-old daughter Claudia up for the vaccine as soon as it’s available.

“She had covid several months ago and it was very disruptive to the household,” she said. “Trying to keep her quarantined, where the whole house is really quarantined at that point. It just creates a lot of stress.”

Walker believes kids have dealt with enough disruptions this year.

“I’m just not going to be all worried and upset, does she have it?” she said. “Do we have to be on lockdown for 10 to 14 days?”

But not every parent is so sure.

That’s where pediatricians, like Dr. Lyn Nuse from Atrium Health, are stepping in to share the facts.

“The safety data in this age range looks identical to what we’ve seen in adults,’ Dr. Nuse said. “It’s very safe. We’re seeing routine side effects; pain at the injection site, redness, low-grade fever.”

According to Dr. Nuse, in the last year, more than 60 percent of children hospitalized with the virus were healthy without underlying conditions.

Dr. Nuse also said 30 to 40 percent of children who had COVID-19 are seeing at least one persistent symptom 120 days or more after the infection.

“I feel really confident that based on current knowledge, the vaccine is actually safer for children to experience than the potential risk of getting the infection,” Dr. Nuse said.

Atrium Health and Mecklenburg County Public Health are waiting for guidance from the state before announcing definitive plans for this age group.

Dr. Nuse said there are plans in place for pediatric-friendly vaccine events.

Atrium Health is recommending that patients between 12 and 15 years of age sign up for the shot online prior to arriving.

The health system is also asking that parents accompany them to the appointment.

Contingent on the CDC recommendation, Novant Health expects to open walk-up vaccinations at their sites for this age group starting at 3 pm on Thursday.

Those locations in our area are:

  • Novant Health Medical Group - East Mecklenburg (6070 East Independence Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28212) is open Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Novant Health Medical Group - Freedom Drive (3149 Freedom Drive, Charlotte, NC 28208) is open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Novant Health Medical Group - Huntersville (17220 Northcross Drive, Suite 110, Huntersville, NC 28078) is open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Novant Health Medical Group – Salisbury (J.F. Hurley YMCA 828 Jake Alexander Blvd. W Salisbury, NC 28147) is open from Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Novant Health is not requiring that parents accompany patients in this age group.

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