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Eastern Carolina gears up for Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11

“We are anxious to have any tools available to protect this population,” Lenoir County Health Director Pamela Brown said.
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 5:37 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As pediatricians and health departments in Eastern North Carolina wait for the FDA and CDC’s approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, the opportunity to roll them out is timely, considering what some areas have seen in coronavirus cases among kids.

“We’ve had some really sick children in our intensive care unit that have gotten COVID and thankfully we’ve not lost any of our children here in the East, but some of them have come very close,” Dr. Matthew Ledoux, chair of the department of pediatrics at Maynard’s Children Hospital said.

Lenoir County Health Director Pamela Brown echoed Ledoux’s thoughts.

As of Wednesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services dashboard showed 26% of the 12-17 age group was fully vaccinated and 33% of the 18-24 age group was fully vaccinated.

“Over the past few months, we’ve seen a rise in cases, of pediatric cases of COVID,” Brown said.

The county is one of the hundreds of providers statewide that were asked by the DHHS to be a part of the initial rollout of the vaccine to kids ages 5 to 11.

Brown said they completed a survey on Tuesday saying they would “definitely accept pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine once it’s available.”

“Even when the vaccine started to roll out for adults, we knew that eventually, it would probably get to this point because it’s where it needs to be, everybody needs to be able to have access to a vaccine,” Brown said.

The Greene County Health Department said in an email that they requested their vaccine allotment of 300 doses.

“Once it has been authorized and we receive our doses, we will begin offering the vaccine to children ages 5 to 11,” Greene County Health Director Joy Brock said.

But as the waiting game continues with a deadline hopefully as early as November, so too does parents’ anxiety over their children’s health.

A survey by QuoteWizard shows nationwide, 69% of respondents said their concerns over side effects would keep them from vaccinating their child.

Ledoux responded to those concerns, hoping to combat vaccine hesitancy.

“We’re not seeing any increase in the number or the severity of the side effects in this vaccine compared to any vaccine that our children need to get to be able to go to school and do those things,” Ledoux said. “The most prominent for all of us who have gotten the COVID vaccine is a little bit of a sore arm, and I think children will have a similar thing.”

Brown added that Lenoir County is excited to have this option of a vaccine for younger kids and she empathized with parents wanting to keep their children safe.

“I’m just so excited for families to have an extra option,” Brown said. “It’s all about information and time, but I think it’s just really important for parents. I mean we owe information to parents.”

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