Pediatric vaccinations against COVID-19 are now underway in Moore County, where dozens of newly eligible children have already received their first injections.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the administration of Pfizer’s vaccine to children ages 5 to 11. That age group accounts for about 7.5 percent of the county’s population, according to the local health department.
Matt Garner, public information officer for the Moore County Health Department, said more than 60 children attended a pair of pediatric vaccination clinics in Carthage last week. The agency plans to hold additional clinics in the coming weeks that will be scheduled to “adjust school and work schedules,” he said.
Previously, the two-dose vaccine could not be administered to people under 12 years of age. While the CDC’s latest guidelines essentially open up immunization to all school-age residents, Garner said demand for the injections has been relatively low.
“There hasn’t been as much interest in the pediatric vaccine as there has been in other age groups,” he said. “However, we believe that with the passage of time, parental confidence in the vaccine will increase.”
A clinical trial of more than 3,000 children ages 5 to 11 has found no safety concerns or serious side effects associated with Pfizer’s vaccine, which is given in smaller doses than the vaccine given to teens and adults. While children are less likely to develop serious illness with COVID-19, they can still “get very sick” and spread the coronavirus to vulnerable adults, according to the CDC.
In addition to the upcoming childhood vaccination clinics, the Moore County Health Department offers injections by appointment at its office on Pinehurst Avenue in Carthage. Appointments can be made on weekdays by calling 910-947-7468 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Data from the NC Department of Health and Human Services showed that 53,549 local residents, or about 53 percent of the county’s population, had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Monday.
The province saw an average of 10 new daily infections over the seven days ending Monday. The weekly percentage of COVID-19 tests that came back positive was 5.1 percent.
Since the start of the pandemic, a total of 13,843 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Moore County, with 254 local deaths attributed to the disease. Deadly infections account for about 1.8 percent of cases in the province.
The health department announced two new deaths on Monday. Among the deceased residents are a woman over 75 who died Wednesday and a man in the age group 50 to 64 who died last Tuesday, Garner said.
FirstHealth of the Carolinas reported on Monday that 19 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the multi-county system, with the majority of patients being treated at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst. Most patients were not vaccinated, FirstHealth said.