State health officials want to see that number grow ahead of the holidays
“Having a safe vaccine to protect my daughters against COVID-19 is a huge relief.”
North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen says like many anxious and COVID-weary parents in our state, she wasted little time last weekend in getting her children the newly approved Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
“Like most kids, my daughters don’t like shots. But we talked as a family about the reasons it was important to protect them from COVID, just like we protect them from flu and other childhood illnesses like chickenpox.”
Secretary Cohen is sharing the story of her daughters ages 7 and 9 in a new public service announcement to encourage other parents to make time before the upcoming holidays to get vaccinated against the highly contagious virus.
Like adults, children are given two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The dose for young children is one-third the amount given to those 12 and older.
And children, like adults, may also have temporary arm soreness, headaches, be tired or experience an achy feeling.
“I’ll share that my daughters did not have any side effects from this first dose, but we know every kid is different,” Cohen said Wednesday.
Dr. Charlene Wong, NCDHHS’ Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, echoed Cohen in encouraging parents to have their children immunized sooner rather than later.
“Certainly we don’t want any child to go into the hospital and families having to deal with that stress of going into the hospital if they don’t need to, because we have a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.”
Dr. Wong said clinical trials also showed no cases of myocarditis in children ages 5-11 after receiving the child-sized vaccine.
Of greater concern, is the risk of a child potentially developing the lingering symptoms of long-COVID.
“These are the symptoms that can really impact what our children can do on a daily basis. Can they go to school? Are they performing at school the way they used to because they have this long COVID?” Dr. Wong offered.
“These can be really debilitating symptoms that can last for a really long time, whereas we have a known safe and effective vaccine which we know can prevent COVID.”
Secretary Cohen said for now she is encouraging parents to get good information from trusted sources, like their pediatrician or local pharmacist.
“I think it’s a great conversation to have around the dinner table this week, and then plan in the next week or so to make an appointment at one of these family vaccination sites.”
Health and Human Services is also examining lessons learned from the summer cash-card giveaway to see if small incentives can sweeten the deal for younger people to get vaccinated.
For Dr. Cohen’s own daughters, they were treated to chocolate milk after getting their vaccines.