RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina parents and guardians can now begin booking coronavirus vaccine appointments for children aged 6 months to 4 years old. This is the first time babies, toddlers, and children under the age of 5 have been eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
StarMed Healthcare began accepting vaccination appointments Monday at some of their Charlotte locations beginning Wednesday. Information from Novant Health and Atrium Health was expected soon.
StarMed vaccines sites
On Wednesday, StarMed will begin administering the vaccine at two of its Charlotte locations.
- FreeMore Clinic, 4001 Tuckaseegee Rd, Charlotte, NC, 28208
- Eastland Clinic, 5344 Central Ave., Charlotte, NC, 28212
“We are thrilled to be able to protect our youngest people and provide another step toward ending the pandemic,” Dr. Arin Piramzadian, Chief Medical Officer at StarMed Healthcare, said in a released statement. “It is important to vaccinate as much of our population as possible and this provides children, their families, and their communities better protection.”
Atrium Health vaccines
Atrium Health is soon expected to announce vaccination sites for children under the age of five.
Novant Health vaccines
Starting Monday, June 27, Novant Health will begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children ages 6 months to less than 5 years of age at select pediatric and family medicine clinics.
Novant Health may have limited appointments due to initial supply and demand, but anticipates greater appointment availability across all locations in the future.
Appointments are required and availability may vary by location, but established patients can check their pediatric or family clinic's website or Facebook page to find out if they are offering the vaccine and to call to schedule an appointment.
The second and third dose appointments will be scheduled on-site during the first dose appointment.
Mecklenburg County Public Health vaccines
Mecklenburg County Public Health will have vaccines available to children 6 months of age and older at Northwest Health Department located at 2845 Beatties Ford Road and Southeast Health Department located at 249 Billingsley Road.
Vaccines will be available on a walk-in basis on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. then from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., in addition to Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
More vaccine sites across North Carolina
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has launched an interactive map that allows searching for available North Carolina vaccination sites via zip code.
While children between the ages of 3 and 5 can receive a shot at a pharmacy or grocery store in addition to a doctor's office or health center, children under the age of 3 can't be vaccinated by a pharmacist in North Carolina. The state's website will help parents find an eligible vaccination site.
South Carolina vaccine sites
South Carolina's initial allocation of COVID-19 vaccine for this age group includes 27,800 doses of Moderna and 27,800 doses of Pfizer.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) will be offering these free vaccines at many DHEC vaccine clinics, including health departments. Their online vaccine locator lists the clinics that have the vaccine available and designated as eligible for patients between 6 months and 5 years old.
FDA and CDC approval
On Saturday, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky gave her endorsement of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children aged 6 months to under 5 years. This means about 18 million kids will be able to get the shots, but how many actually will is still to be seen. Less than one-third of kids aged 5 to 11 have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Vaccines are still not available for newborns and babies younger than 6 months of age.
How many COVID shots do kids need
NCDHHS notes the vaccine doses for children in this age group are smaller than other age groups and differs from the shots approved for kids aged 5 to 11.
Booster shots are not authorized for the under-5 age group. However Pfizer's vaccine series is currently authorized for three shots, while Moderna's series has two authorized shots. A third shot of Moderna for kids is undergoing testing, with data expected later in the summer.
Most adults are considered fully vaccinated after receiving an initial two-dose shot of Pfizer or Moderna. Most adults are encouraged to receive a booster shot, which would be the third shot for most adults.
In clinical trials, NCDHHS says there were no safety concerns or serious side effects in children for either vaccine option. Temporary and minimal side effects possible include a sore arm, headache, and being tired and achy for up to two days.
All COVID shots for patients aged 6 months and up can be received for free, even without health insurance and regardless of immigration status.
Further questions and requests for help making an appointment can be made by calling the North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567. The help center is open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
For the first time, parents can get younger kids vaccinated
“Many parents and families have been eagerly awaiting a vaccine to protect our youngest North Carolinians,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “These vaccines are the best way to protect children from COVID-19 -- they are safe, effective and free.”
Mother of two, Katie Williams is one of those parents.
"We always joke that we would be the first in line marching our son into the doctor's office when the COVID vaccines came out for the under-five set," said Williams.
She said getting her boys vaccinated is the best decision for her family.
“We are pro-vaccine households, we get all of the recommended, vaccines, pediatric and adult, I think it's important to vaccinate our children so that we continue to support herd immunity of COVID as well as other communicable diseases.”