NC parents hesitant to vaccinate kids against COVID-19 as virus still poses risk

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As vaccinations continue to rise nationwide, fears of how the COVID-19 vaccine could affect children surface among parents.

"I'm a little nervous," said Radiah Johnson. "I don't want to end up with cancer in the next five years or blind. You never know what side effects will come."

Johnson's 14-year-old daughter, Aleah, just graduated from eighth grade and will be starting high school at E. E. Smith this fall.

Returning to the classroom means in-person learning and the risk of exposure to COVID but that's not enough to sway her mother into vaccinating her daughter who has asthma.

"It's not safe because it came too fast in my opinion. From the beginning of March last year it was millions of people dying. Now, all of a sudden this vaccine is going to save the world."

The CDC says Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is proven safe and effective against the virus and no children in the clinical trial were hospitalized with the virus.

The latest report from the CDC says COVID-19 continues to be a serious threat to some children between the ages of 12 and 17 but specifically those with underlying medical conditions.

A national survey of teen COVID cases, who between January and March this year, about 200 teens were hospitalized with the virus -- a third of those children were admitted to the ICU and about 5 percent needed a ventilator, none of those children died.

Nationally, teen hospitalizations increased from March to April, mostly among those with pre-existing health conditions.

Data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says in the month of May, 68 children under the age of 18 were admitted to the hospital and treated for COVID-19.

In April, 71 children were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

As for Johnson, the plan is to send her daughter back to the classroom this fall without vaccination with plenty of precautions.

"They've already said if they aren't vaccinated they have to keep a mask on all day and go with handwashing measures -- I'd love to try that at first," Johnson said.
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