'My concerns are long-term effects:' COVID vaccine hesitancy persists among North Carolina youth

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Health officials are working to improve the vaccination rate among youth in North Carolina.

According to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, four percent of doses being doled out are going to kids ages 12-17 and seven percent of the doses for ages 18-24.

"My concerns are long-term effects, because it hasn't been out long enough to know what it does to children my age or even older," said 17-year-old Raleigh resident Caili Taylor.

Taylor is holding off on getting a shot. The teen wants to do more research and see how her friends react before deciding to take the plunge herself.

"It's a possibility," Taylor said. "Not a definite."

Others are equally apprehensive about getting a vaccine approved for emergency use.

"I don't trust it," said Fayetteville resident Michelle Hill. "I'm not putting it in my body until it's been verified."

Vaccination is lagging in North Carolina in the 18-24 age group.

North Carolina at 34 percent, according to the latest DHHS and U.S. Census population data. The nationwide average is 43 percent.

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The CDC is recommending everyone over age 12 get the shot.

UNC School of Medicine Professor Dr. David Weber said the vaccine is very effective, even against the new variants including the Delta variant.

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"Both the Moderna and Pzifer vaccines showed excellent data for the 12 and above people, actually better data than they did for older people. In their trials, they were 100 percent effective," said Weber.

Weber said kids are much less likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19, but they can still become sick.

"We have admitted more than 100 people to the UNC Medical Center who are 17 and under," said Weber.

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