Children setting pace for vaccinations in NC; health officials hope more parents get shots, too

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- In the race to vaccinate, children are stepping up to take their spot.

In North Carolina during the past two weeks, children 12 to 17 years old have made up the largest age group of people getting vaccinated.

Vaccine clinics, such as the one that St. Timothy's School hosted on its Raleigh campus last week, are helping in the effort.



Timothy L. Tinnesz, the school's headmaster, released the school's official vaccination position to ABC11:

"As a school, we firmly believe in the scientifically proven efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, and we're pleased that a substantial majority of our faculty and staff (over 95% to date) have chosen to be vaccinated. We strongly encourage all in our community to consult with your physician and obtain a vaccine for yourself and your family if advised to do so."

Tinnesz said the school partnered with Eastern Carolina Medical Center In-Clinic RX to offer the clinic for more than 100 students, alumni, siblings, and families.

"While St. Timothy's School was able to offer safe and successful on-campus instruction all year, there were still many sacrifices, complexities and challenges involved, including precautionary quarantines, health screenings, masking, distancing, and certain beloved activities and traditions we had to postpone due to safety precautions," he said. "We see widespread vaccination as an essential step in safely returning to "normal schooling" for all of our children, teachers, and families just as soon as we can.

"We hope we can offer another vaccine clinic when we return to school in the fall -- especially if the vaccines are found to be safe and effective for even more of our younger students.".

Carrie Hull, who got vaccinated in January, brought her two middle-schoolers and their big sister to the clinic to get their shot.

"It was just so easy to do it, very accessible, so it was just nice to be able to get them in and get it done," she said. "We're getting back into activities and that kind of thing so it's encouraging."

The FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children 12-15 years old on May 10 and already more than 14-percent of North Carolina's 12- 17-year-olds have one dose of the vaccine.

In Wake County last week, more than half of vaccinations going out -- 51-percent -- went into the arms of children 12-17.

In Durham, that number was 44 percent.

Orange County tops all other counties in the state, with 62 percent of COVID vaccines given last week going to 12- 17-year-olds; it was 70 percent the week before that.

"One of the benefits of vaccinating this group is it really helps reduce the transmission and spread of COVID-19 within our community," said Ryan Jury, Wake County Mass Vaccination Branch Director.

Jury is glad to see the surge of young people taking their spot, but it's who is coming with those kids to get their shot that has him hopeful.

"As we vaccinate children, we're also vaccinating parents that haven't yet gotten vaccinated or caregivers who haven't yet been vaccinated," he said.

SarahLewis Peel, an NCDHHS spokesperson, released the following statement to ABC11:

"There is good news for helping our children get back to the fuller lives they had before the pandemic. The tested, safe and effective Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now available for ages 12 and up. This comes at just the right time to help us bring summer back for North Carolina's teenagers and ensure our kids are safely back in school next year. But that will only be possible if the large majority of North Carolinians are vaccinated.

Everyone ages 12 and older can receive a free Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, even if they don't have insurance and regardless of their immigration status. To find a Pfizer vaccine near you, visit myspot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567."
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