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Few North Carolina children 5-11 vaccinated in early rollout

November 10, 2021 GMT
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, speaks at a news conference on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., to encourage parents of young children to get a COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Bryan Anderson)
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Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, speaks at a news conference on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., to encourage parents of young children to get a COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Bryan Anderson)
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Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, speaks at a news conference on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., to encourage parents of young children to get a COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Bryan Anderson)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Few North Carolina parents had their children vaccinated in the first days COVID-19 shots were available for kids age 5 to 11, according to the latest data collected by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s top public health official, said in a Wednesday news conference that more than 24,000 kids in the age group got the vaccine within the first five days it was administered. Though more numbers are still coming in, this represents less than 3% of the almost 900,000 children eligible in the group.

She encourages parents to talk to their child’s pediatrician about concerns they may have and noted her 7- and 9-year-old daughters were vaccinated within days of the kid-sized Pfizer vaccine being made available.

“I’m not just talking the talk,” Cohen said. “We’re walking the walk in our family because it’s so important to protect our kids. I want the best for them. I want them to be healthy and safe. I hope with other families seeing what we are doing with our family, that will give them more comfort.”

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North Carolina will soon have received more than 468,000 vaccines aimed for children 5 to 11, and doses are already widely available throughout the state.

Cohen also encouraged North Carolinians who received a single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago to come in now for a booster. She said she had received a J&J vaccine earlier this year and chose to get a Moderna booster to gain extra protection.

Cohen recommends adults who got their second Pfizer or Moderna shot at least six months ago and meet additional criteria to get a booster of the same vaccine they received earlier, though they do have the option to mix and match with any of the three approved boosters.

Asked if otherwise healthy adults under 65 who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and plan to travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas should also get a booster, Cohen recommended people assess their own risk.

“That could be either in your work setting or in something that you’re doing in your personal life,” Cohen said. “I think there is some opportunity for folks to assess their own risk and to know whether or not they are at higher risk for exposure to COVID and whether or not a booster is right for them.”

The state health department said 975,978 boosters and additional doses had been administered in the state as of Monday.

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Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson.

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Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.