NC preps for Pfizer youth vaccine ahead of FDA authorization for kids ages 5-11

CHARLOTTE — North Carolina is preparing to vaccinate some of the youngest kids across the state ahead of a COVID-19 vaccine being authorized for their age group.

In the next two weeks, the FDA could grant Pfizer emergency authorization for children ages 5 to 11 to get the shot.

In a four-page memo on Tuesday, state officials shared a tentative plan with providers for how that vaccine will be rolled out and where those first doses would go in our area. The plan would only go into effect once the youth vaccine receives authorization.

Experts believe the rollout could start shortly after Nov. 3.

“Anything we can do to try to get back to some more of that normalcy is something that we want to do,” said Sarah John, a parent.

The memo from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services explained how the federal government is getting ready ahead of time by making its initial vaccine allocations to each state based on population.

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Once approved, the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 will be distributed to local providers in three waves.

The first wave consists of the following: Family and mass vaccination centers that were created to help to meet equity goals, local health departments, and pediatric offices that currently distribute vaccines at a high rate.

“I think it’ll make life easier for the parents,” said Eboni Drake, another parent. “Just knowing that they’ll be able to send their kids to school now without having to worry about their safety.”

The first wave of allotments planned for the state’s counties totals almost 125,000 doses, with over 31,000 in Charlotte and the surrounding areas. In our area, Mecklenburg County is set to receive the most doses at 13,500.

Mecklenburg County health leaders estimate the county has about 100,000 children who fall into the range of 5 to 11 years old. At Tuesday’s county commissioner’s meeting, leaders questioned if the supply of shots would be enough for the county.

“We believe we’ll have adequate supply for everyone within the first couple weeks,” Deputy Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington said. “We will not be able to vaccinate 100,000 people in the first couple of weeks ... but we certainly are geared up to vaccinate as quickly as possible.”

Several counties, including Avery and Watauga, would receive the least, with just 300 doses to start.

To secure their allotment, the providers chosen for the first wave had to confirm by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Some community members said they are ready now.

“I am a survivor of COVID,” Sandra Delgallego said. “I almost lost my life last year, and I don’t think there’s more people who need to be losing their lives, especially the children.”

NCDHHS is predicting that the demand for youth vaccines will be high for the first two weeks. They’ve already crafted a plan to transfer vaccines between providers if that’ll help to meet demand.

For a complete list of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccine allotments upon the authorization of Pfizer’s shot for children ages 5 to 11, click here.

Because the list of providers administering the shots will likely be fluid, DHHS officials said the best way for parents and families to find a nearby location will be to visit or call 888-675-4567 toll free. People also can text their ZIP code to 438829 to find vaccine locations near them.

(WATCH BELOW: Reports: FDA approval for ‘mix and match’ approach to COVID-19 boosters expected this week)