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First Charlotte area teens get their COVID vaccine shots. Here’s what you need to know

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 8:47 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Charlotte Observer) - Several Mecklenburg County teens became the first of their age group in the Charlotte area to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday.

Novant Health began vaccinating kids ages 12 to 15 Wednesday evening at its east Mecklenburg location at 6070 East Independence Blvd. The hospital system plans to begin accepting walk-ins in that age group at all vaccine locations Thursday starting at 3 p.m.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine Monday for use in 12- to 15-year-olds. Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend the vaccine.

Charlotte hospital system Atrium Health is aiming to begin vaccinating teens ages 12 to 15 starting Thursday, spokeswoman Claire Simmons said.

CVS Health announced it would begin vaccinating kids in that age group starting Thursday. Children must be accompanied by an adult, according to CVS.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free for the recipient. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine in the United States available to people under the age of 18. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available to anyone age 18 and older.

Cassidy Black, 13 years, was the first teenager to receive a COVID vaccination shot on...
Cassidy Black, 13 years, was the first teenager to receive a COVID vaccination shot on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at the Novant Health clinic at 6070 East Independence Blvd.(Jeff Siner | Charlotte Observer | Jeff Siner | Charlotte Observer)

VACCINE HELPS GET BACK TO ‘OUR NEW NORMAL’

Elise Arnold, 15, got her first Pfizer vaccine Wednesday at Novant. She’s the last in her immediate family to get the shot, she said. Her mother, father and older brother already have received the vaccination.

Elise Arnold, 15 years, left, receives her first COVID vaccination shot on Wednesday, May 12,...
Elise Arnold, 15 years, left, receives her first COVID vaccination shot on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at the Novant Health clinic at 6070 East Independence Blvd. Looking on in the background is EliseÕs mother, Charity Arnold.(Jeff Siner | Charlotte Observer | Jeff Siner | Charlotte Observer)

Arnold’s mother, Charity, said she had been checking “just about every day” to find out when the shot would be available for Elise’s age group. Charity’s parents both had COVID-19, she said. Her father was hospitalized, and it took him six weeks to recover, she said.

So the Arnolds know how serious COVID-19 can be, Elise Arnold said. That’s why she was excited to protect herself from COVID-19 by getting the vaccine. She said she would tell her friends to get the shot, too.

Millie Johnston, 13, called getting her first shot Wednesday an “exciting” experience, and she had been planning to get the shot as soon as it became available.

Alex Johnston, her 15-year-old brother, said most of his friends are 16 and already have gotten the shot. He got his Wednesday.

Vaccination rates have begun to slow in North Carolina, even as more vaccines become readily available.

That makes it less likely that the area will reach the threshold for herd immunity, which likely needs around 80% of the population vaccinated, Novant chief nursing officer Nikki Nissen said Wednesday.

But opening up vaccines to additional age groups may help boost vaccination rates in the Charlotte area, she said.

“This is our chance to try to get back to our new normal,” Nissen said. “We just really want to continue to encourage people to get their shot.”

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