The Pfizer vaccine is cleared for use by teens. Here’s what Charlotte doctors advise.

·3 min read

For the first time, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available to Charlotte-area youths ages 12 and up after a decision released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late Monday.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine had already been authorized for use in 16- and 17-year-olds, unlike the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which are both only available for people age 18 and older.

The Pfizer vaccine is available by appointment and for walk-ins at Atrium Health, Novant Health, Mecklenburg County Public Health and other vaccine providers in the Charlotte region.

Here’s what you need to know about the vaccine for kids, according to local health experts.

Who can get the Pfizer vaccine now?

Anyone age 12 and older can now get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

How many injections does my child need?

The Pfizer vaccine requires two injections, spaced three weeks apart. That is the same requirement for adults.

A scene from Novant Health’s mobile unit for COVID-19 vaccinations at Lowe’s at Northlake in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.
A scene from Novant Health’s mobile unit for COVID-19 vaccinations at Lowe’s at Northlake in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

Where can I get the vaccine?

Mecklenburg County Public Health offers vaccine shots at Bojangles Coliseum by appointment and for walk-ins at the Bojangles Coliseum. That vaccine clinic will be closing May 22.

StarMed Healthcare, the county’s vaccination partner at that site, also offers COVID-19 shots at locations across Charlotte.

Information on vaccine appointments in surrounding counties can be found on local health department websites.

Charlotte hospital systems Atrium Health and Novant Health offer shots for walk-ins along with appointments.

Anyone who is eligible can schedule a shot with Atrium Health by logging into their MyAtriumHealth account, or registering for an account online. You can also call 704-468-8888. And anyone eligible can schedule a vaccine with Novant Health by logging into their MyChart account, or registering for an account online.

CVS, Walgreens and Harris Teeter are also offering vaccine appointments online in the Charlotte area.

And Walgreens and Sam’s Club are accepting walk-ins at 15 pharmacy locations in Charlotte.

Is the vaccine free?

Yes. All COVID-19 vaccines offered in the U.S. are offered free of charge to the recipient.

Is it safe?

Yes. The vaccine has undergone clinical trials and has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The vaccine is safe, Novant Health family medicine physician Dr. Ashley Perrott told reporters Friday. In fact, Perrott said she’s excited for her 12- and 14-year-old children to get the vaccine themselves.

“This is a great vaccine,” Perrott said. “It will help us to try to get back to our normal lives, and it helps to prevent COVID, which is scary.”

How effective is the Pfizer vaccine in kids?

In a trial in more than 2,000 children ages 12 to 15, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was 100% effective at preventing COVID-19.

Are there side effects in children?

Parents should expect some of the same minor side effects seen in adults getting the coronavirus vaccines, Atrium Health pediatric infectious disease expert Dr. Amina Ahmed told reporters Friday.

Some of those potential side effects are redness and soreness at the injection site, Ahmed said.

Other side effects could include fever and body aches, Perrott said.

Why should kids get the vaccine?

As older adults get vaccinated in higher rates, children are making up a larger percentage of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Right now, children could account for up to 20% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Ahmed said.

And doctors are seeing more young people hospitalized with the coronavirus, Novant Health infectious disease expert Dr. David Priest said.

Getting the vaccine doesn’t just protect your child, doctors say. More people getting the vaccine makes the Charlotte area as a whole safer, slowing the spread of COVID-19, Mecklenburg County medical director Dr. Meg Sullivan said.