Here’s where parents can find the COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Children in North Carolina ages 5 to 11 can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration has authorized a lower dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children in this age group, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all children 5-11 get the vaccine to protect against serious illness and help keep them healthy.

“Children are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus just like everyone else,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “The authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provides a safe, tested way to protect them from serious illness and provide healthier, happier experiences in and outside of the classroom.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is starting to receive some of the more than 468,000 COVID-19 vaccines it expects to get for children ages 5 to 11.

“By the end of today, 218 North Carolina state vaccine providers will have a supply from state allocations,” the state health department said in a statement by email on Nov. 3. “The program will ramp up over the coming days, and be fully up and running during the week of Nov. 8.”

Mecklenburg County Public Health leaders said they received the county’s first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 on Nov. 2. Health leaders said the shipment contained 13,500 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old.

“This delivery marks an exciting milestone in our community’s fight against COVID-19,” a county representative said in a statement.

The Pfizer-BioNTech lower dose COVID-19 vaccine is currently the only one available for children between the ages of 5-11. Parents and guardians with questions about COVID-19 vaccines should talk with their child’s physician.

“Getting school-age kids vaccinated will help keep them safe to play sports, attend events, be with friends and do all of the other things kids love to do that they may currently be missing out on,” Cohen said. “I will be getting my daughters vaccinated this weekend. Don’t wait to vaccinate your kids, so they get back to safely being with family and friends, especially as we head into the holiday season.”

Everyone ages 5 and older can receive a free Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, even if they don’t have health insurance and regardless of their immigration status. North Carolina’s actions are based on recommendations from the CDC.

Health officials in North Carolina say they are expecting more than 468,000 doses of the pediatric vaccine to go to 750 providers in the coming week, which is enough to cover more than 52% of the state’s nearly 893,000 children ages 5 to 11, according to CDC data.

Read the CDC’s full statement here.

The doses will be received in three waves. Nearly all the 124,500 immediately set aside for North Carolina providers have already been delivered or will be delivered Wednesday, while an additional 158,100 Pfizer vaccines allocated to state providers are currently en route and expected to be delivered in the coming days. The federal government will also send 185,700 doses directly to retail pharmacy locations.

(WATCH BELOW: Novant Health gives COVID-19 shots to children)

South Carolina ready to vaccinate kids

Fort Mill parent Jen Callahan was ready to vaccinate her son, 8-year-old Liam Callahan. She signed him up for an appointment on Saturday in Charlotte.

“I wanted to make sure that I could get him in as soon as possible,” Callahan said.

South Carolina health officials said more than 250 vaccine providers in the state are enrolled to give COVID-19 shots to children between 5 and 11.

There are more than 436,000 kids within that age range in the state.

“We encourage parents who have questions about the vaccine to seek their own information from their doctor that they trust,” said Dr. Jane Kelly, assistant state epidemiologist.

(WATCH BELOW: Dr. Raynard Washington explains Meck County’s plan to roll out vaccines for kids ages 5-11)

Where and when can younger children get the shot?

For parents wondering when and where their child can get the shot, Vax Clinic told Channel 9 it will offer the pediatric vaccine at its community clinic (at Covenant Presbyterian Church on East Morehead Street) starting Wednesday from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. Vax Clinic has recurring weekly mass clinic sites all over Charlotte until mid-December. They are all listed here for anyone to schedule appointments.

StarMed Healthcare said it has started offering shots. You can book online now.

You can also book appointments at Walgreens, though the first appointments aren’t available until Saturday.

CVS said it has started accepting appointments for select CVS Pharmacy locations that will be offering the vaccine for younger kids, with administration starting on Sunday, Nov. 7.

Novant:

Novant said it will begin administering the vaccine to children ages 5 to 11 on Nov. 4. Appointments will become available for scheduling at 8 a.m. There may be limited appointments due to initial supply and demand, but Novant expects to receive additional supply as part of the state’s phased allocation plan, and therefore will have more appointment availability.

Appointments can be made at the following locations:

  • Novant Health Medical Group – Hanes (196 Hanes Mall Circle, Winston-Salem) is open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Novant Health Medical Group – East Mecklenburg (6070 East Independence Blvd., Charlotte) is open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Select Novant Health pediatric and family medicine clinics across North Carolina in the Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Coastal market

Novant Health is opening select mass vaccination sites on Saturdays to give school-aged children the opportunity to get vaccinated on a weekend. You do not have to be a Novant Health patient to schedule an appointment at a mass vaccination site.

Huntersville

Saturday, Nov. 13 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Second-dose appointments will be available at this location on Saturday, Dec. 4 (Novant Health Medical Group - Huntersville, 17220 Northcross Drive, Suite 110, Huntersville).

Charlotte

Saturday, Nov. 20 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Second-dose appointments will be available at a nearby location on Saturday, Dec. 11 (Novant Health Medical Group - East Mecklenburg, 6070 E Independence Blvd, Charlotte).

How to schedule:

  1. Anyone can create a MyChart account by visiting MyNovant.org. Legal guardians have primary access to a child’s MyChart account through age 11. To schedule a vaccination, a legal guardian can log in to their own MyChart account and select the child’s user profile. Appointment availability can be accessed under Schedule an Appointment. For children 12 and over, legal guardians may request to have proxy access to a child’s MyChart account, which includes the ability to schedule or modify appointments on behalf of their child.
  2. GetVaccinated.org: Anyone can schedule an appointment online.

Atrium:

Atrium Health Levine Children’s is offering appointments to schedule the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. Vaccine appointments will be available for this age group at Atrium Health Levine Children’s pediatric and family medicine clinics across the surrounding areas. Appointments are available to all, even if a child is not a current Levine Children’s patient.

  • To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11-years-old, CLICK HERE.

Please note: Appointments for this group might be temporarily limited as Atrium waits for more shipments of the lower-dose product. Atrium will add appointments as it gets more doses.

Levine Children’s will be hosting two initial vaccination clinics on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Providence Pediatrics and Piedmont Pediatrics as well as Saturday, Nov. 20 at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Charlotte Pediatric Clinic Matthews.

Appointments are required.

StarMed

StarMed Healthcare is partnering with CMS to offer COVID-19 vaccinations and testing at five CMS school locations for anyone ages 5 and older. The vaccinations are provided at no cost to the individual, with or without insurance.

Patients also can be tested for the COVID-19 virus at each of the CMS locations. There is no cost for the test. No referrals are necessary, and walk-up patients are welcome. A StarMed medical staff member will gently collect a nasal swab sample. Patients can get instant results with a rapid test, or a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that will provide a patient’s results in a day or so, by email and text message.

Registration for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing at the five CMS locations is available at starmed.care.

StarMed staff will offer the vaccinations and testing at these CMS locations, with hours of operation:

  • Rocky River High School, 10505 Clear Creek Commerce Dr., Mint Hill, NC 28227, (9 a.m. - 3 p.m.)
  • Garinger High School, 1100 Eastway Dr., Charlotte, NC 28205, (8 a.m.- 2 p.m.)
  • James Martin Middle School, 7800 IBM Dr. Charlotte, NC 28262, (10 a.m. - 3 p.m.)
  • Waddell Language Academy, 7030 Nations Ford Rd., Charlotte, NC 28217, (10 a.m. - 3 p.m.)
  • Barnette Elementary School, 13659 Beatties Ford Rd., Huntersville, NC 28078, (9 a.m. - 1 p.m.)

Mecklenburg County:

Community vaccination sites administering the pediatric COVID-19 will include:

Nov. 4:

  • Mecklenburg County Public Health will begin offering vaccines for those ages 5 and older at Southeast Health Department (249 Billingsley Road, Charlotte) and Northwest Health Department (2845 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte) starting at 12 p.m. and Valerie C. Woodard Center (3205 Freedom Drive, Charlotte) starting at 1:30 p.m. Click here for more information.
  • StarMed will begin offering vaccines for those ages 5 and older at all locations. Click here for more information.
  • Novant Health will begin offering vaccines for those ages 5 and older at East Mecklenburg Clinic (6070 East Independence Blvd). Click here for more details.
  • Atrium Health will offer vaccines for those ages 5 to 11 by appointment only through pediatric and primary care offices. Click here or call your child’s provider for more information.

Nov. 6:

  • Many special vaccination events will be held across the county this weekend for those ages 5 or older. Visit this page and click “Get Your Vaccination” for more details.

People can also contact their pediatrician, primary care provider or local pharmacy for vaccine availability. Written parental/guardian consent is required for children in this age group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

>> CLICK HERE for more vaccine information from Mecklenburg County.

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 Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567 can also help you make an appointment. It is open 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. on weekends.

The Empowered Living Church, Steele Creek Church, and Trinity Worship Center are partnering with the Mecklenburg County Health Department to hold a vaccination clinic on Wednesday, Nov. 17. FREE Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, boosters, pediatric doses, and testing will be available. The clinic runs from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at 5735 Dixie River Road in Charlotte. REGISTER HERE.

Gaston County

The Gaston County Public Health Department is opening appointments for the pediatric COVID-19 vaccines.

The Pfizer vaccine is available for children ages 5 to 11 and appointments can be made here. Appointments are available beginning Wednesday, Nov. 10.

The Health Department has set up a separate portion of their facility at 991 W. Hudson Blvd. specifically for children’s vaccines. The state sent 1,200 doses of the children’s vaccine to Gaston County’s Health Department for the initial rollout of shots. The Health Department will order more vaccine from the state based on community demand.

Akers Pharmacy, CVS, Walgreens, StarMed and Kintegra are among the other providers in the community also providing the pediatric vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine currently federally approved to be provided for children. Children need the consent of their parent or legal guardian to receive the vaccine.

The vaccine for 5-11 year-olds will be available in the afternoons Monday-Friday, 1-4:30 p.m.

More details, including the registration link, are available at GastonSaves.com.

South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) supports the CDC’s action and will be working with vaccine providers to ensure access for the 5-11 age group throughout the state. Parents can start getting their children in this age group vaccinated immediately.

“Approval of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5-11 is a major step forward for South Carolina and the rest of our nation in our fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “We want people to know that a great deal of research and analysis went into the approval of the vaccine for this age group. This research has shown that the vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5-11. The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC would not have signed off on using this vaccine with this age group without this research, and the same goes for DHEC. We are encouraged by this news and are excited to offer this vaccine to the 436,352 South Carolinian children in this age group.”

In anticipation of the approval, DHEC last month began developing its vaccine rollout plan for South Carolinians ages 5-11. At the same time, the federal government informed South Carolina that the state would receive 152,100 pediatric vaccine doses in the first week of availability. South Carolina has already received more than 60,000 doses and expects to receive the rest of them by Friday. The state will continue to receive weekly shipments beginning next week. The federal government has enough doses for all 28 million children in this age group, so a phased rollout will not be necessary like it was for adult vaccines last winter.

Pediatric vaccinations are being distributed this week to more than 250 vaccine providers in South Carolina, including many pediatricians and family practice providers. DHEC is also distributing to many, but not all, hospital systems that may further distribute within their networks, DHEC health departments, federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, provider offices, and mobile vaccine vendors, among others. It is important to note that while vaccines are making their way to South Carolina, providers are working to update and train their staff on the final CDC recommendations for pediatric vaccines. It is best to contact your provider for availability prior to visiting a site.

“Just like a measles or polio shot, the COVID-19 vaccine will stave off this deadly virus and allow our children to safely attend school and focus on bettering themselves in the classroom,” Simmer said. “We strongly urge parents to learn more about this vaccine and protect their children by taking advantage of this life-saving opportunity.”

COVID-19 vaccinations are available for ages 5 and up. Visit DHEC COVID-19 webpage for more information, the locator page to find a nearby place to get vaccinated, or call our Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110.

(The next step parents might be worried about could be talking to their kids about getting the shot. In the video below, reporter Gina Esposito has more on what healthcare experts say that conversation could look like.)

Q&A: What to know about COVID-19 vaccines for kids aged 5-11

Vaccinations finally are available to U.S. children as young as 5, to the relief of some parents even as others have questions or fears.

Late Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the final OK for youngsters age 5 to 11 to get kid-size doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. Pediatricians and other doctors’ groups praised the move and are gearing up to help families decide whether to vaccinate their children.

The shots could be available as soon as Wednesday and will be offered at pediatricians’ offices, clinics and pharmacies. Like COVID-19 vaccines for adults, they are free.

Here are some things to know:

SHOULD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN GET VACCINATED?

Yes, according to U.S. health authorities and leading doctors’ groups. Even though the virus tends to be more severe in adults than children, COVID-19 is causing plenty of preventable suffering among youngsters. About 1.9 million kids ages 5 to 11 have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Some 8,300 have been hospitalized, about a third needed intensive care, and at least 94 deaths have been verified.

That’s not counting the risk of a serious complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome that can hit kids several weeks after they recovered from even a mild infection.

Vaccination also promises to help kids more safely resume school and social activities.

ARE KID DOSES THE SAME SIZE AS ADULT ONES?

No. Children ages 5 to 11 will receive a third of the dose given to teens and adults. That’s 10 micrograms per shot for youngsters, compared to 30 micrograms per shot for everyone 12 and older. Like everybody else, the younger kids will get two shots, three weeks apart.

HOW WELL DO THE SHOTS WORK?

In a study, Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine proved nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection. Vaccinated youngsters developed levels of virus-fighting antibodies as strong as teens and young adults who’d received the full-strength dose.

ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS?

In the trial, the 5- to 11-year-olds had some annoying post-shot reactions, including sore arms and fatigue, similar to teens and young adults but were less likely to have fevers. Altogether, the study includes 4,600 youngsters, 3,100 of them given the vaccine and the rest dummy shots. The FDA found no safety concerns.

WHAT ABOUT RARE PROBLEMS?

Tens of millions of the larger doses have been given safely to Americans 12 and older. One very rare serious side effect has come to light: heart inflammation.

These rare reactions have occurred mostly in young men or teens boys, usually after the second dose, and they tend to recover quickly. To put the risk in context, doctors say COVID-19 infection can cause more serious heart inflammation. One theory is that testosterone and puberty play a role, which is partly why experts expect any risk to younger kids would be even lower.

WHAT IF MY CHILD IS ABOUT TO TURN 12?

CDC said children should get the dose that’s right for their age on the day of vaccination. So if a child gets the 10-microgram dose for the first shot and then turns 12, the second shot should be the 30-microgram dose.

SHOULD I JUST WAIT UNITL THEIR 12TH BIRTHDAY SO BOTH SHOTS ARE THE BIGGER DOSE?

Pediatricians say not to postpone vaccination because the kid-size dose is effective in that age group.

(WATCH BELOW: South Carolina receives thousands of COVID-19 vaccines)

IS THE CDC’S MOVE A MANDATE?

No. The CDC has not mandated vaccinations for youngsters, but recommended them.

AREN’T ONLY SOME KIDS AT HIGH RISK OF SERIOUS COVID-19?

Nearly 70% of 5- to 11-year-olds hospitalized for COVID-19 have had other medical problems, including obesity and asthma. But sometimes the otherwise healthy get seriously ill, too. And given the profound social, mental health and educational impact the pandemic has had on youngsters, health authorities made clear that all children should be vaccinated. There also are equity concerns, as more than two-thirds of youngsters who’ve been hospitalized are Black or Hispanic.

WHAT IF MY CHILD ALREADY HAD COVID-19?

They still should be vaccinated once they’ve recovered, according the CDC. It’s clear that prior infection does provide some protection against another bout but that immunity can vary depending on how seriously ill someone was, and how long ago. Studies of adults have found that vaccination after infection can dramatically boost protection.

IS PFIZER’S VACCINE THE ONLY CHOICE FOR CHILDREN?

In the U.S., for now, it is. Moderna’s similar vaccine is used by teens in some other countries and is being tested in younger children but isn’t yet available for Americans under age 18. A few other countries have used other kinds of COVID-19 vaccines in young children, including China, which just began vaccinations for 3-year-olds.

WHAT ABOUT VACCINATIONS FOR U.S. CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 5?

Stay tuned: Pfizer and Moderna are testing low doses in babies and preschoolers.

By Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

(WATCH BELOW: Starmed Healthcare CEO breaks down vaccine rollout for kids 5-11)