RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Vaccine clinics and sites were busy Saturday as parents brought their children during the first weekend vaccines were authorized for children ages 5 to 11 years old.
"Since Thursday, we've done about 75 to 100 (vaccinations) a day, and we're doing that again today," said Tony Gurley, Pharmacy Manager at Glenwood South Pharmacy & Market in Raleigh.
Gurley noted the upcoming holiday season in explaining the importance of moving quickly to get a vaccine.
"Family gatherings, they're always going to include the younger children. And this helps to prevent them from catching COVID virus," said Gurley.
The Pfizer version for children ages 5 to 11 is a smaller dose than the version for those 12 and older, but is also two doses, taken three weeks apart. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose. While that means people who are getting their first dose now will not be fully vaccinated for Thanksgiving, they will be fully vaccinated for Christmas and New Year's.
"We haven't been able to visit my family or my grandparents who live in the Midwest. So once she's fully vaccinated, we're going to be able to take a trip there for the holidays," said Mary Jane Thompson, who brought her daughter to get her shot Saturday.
Thompson also pointed to the colder weather, leading students to congregate inside, as a point of emphasis in why she wanted to get her daughter vaccinated.
"As the weather gets colder, the outdoor eating is not as much of an option. Kids don't want to eat (outside) when it's cold. So having to do those indoor spaces with masks off knowing that she's got the vaccine is definitely making me at easy," Thompson said.
In Cary, Dr. Christopher Kelly, a UNC Rex cardiologist with NC Heart & Vascular brought his three young children to get their shots.
"When you look at the research, which has been done extensively at this point, it's extremely clear that the risks of COVID are far greater than the risks of the vaccine," said Dr. Kelly.
His twin boys, Blair and Brecks Kelly, both encouraged other children to get their shots.
"I was really scared of getting the shot at first, but I didn't even realize when it went into me. And you can barely even feel a thing," said Blair.
"Getting COVID hurts more than getting the shot, and that it doesn't hurt at all. And if you're nervous at first, that's OK," Brecks added.
While children are generally not as severely affected by COVID-19 as older individuals, pediatricians largely encourage parents to get their children vaccinated.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that more than 1 million children have been diagnosed with COVID in the past six weeks. Since the beginning of the pandemic, of the 1.9 million children aged 5 to 11 who became infected, 8,300 required hospitalization.