RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – Children ages 5-11 years old can now get a COVID-19 booster after it was given the green light by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday following authorization by the Food and Drug Administration May 18.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), booster shots are available at all COVID-19 vaccination clinics and children ages 5-11 are eligible for a booster five months after their most recent Pfizer shot.
The New Hanover County Pandemic Operations Center, located at 1507 Greenfield Street in Wilmington begins offering booster doses for this age group Friday, May 20 at 1 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome.
“A booster shot helps a person prolong their protective immunity against the virus and there is robust data that this booster for children is safe and important especially given our current COVID climate with cases rising,” said NHC Pandemic Operations Manager Jon Campbell.
According to New Hanover County’s COVID-19 metrics, the positivity rate is rising.
Over the past month, New Hanover County’s percent positivity for testing has risen from 3 percent on April 8 to 16.9 percent as of May 20, and the total number of cases reported within a 14-day window has gone from 150 to 621 during that same time frame.
“New Hanover County is continuing to see an infection surge and experts believe impacts on the national healthcare system will likely peak in 3-4 weeks,” said Campbell. “Combining a healthy lifestyle, minimizing the risk for exposure and remaining up to date on COVID-19 vaccination provides the best protection against severe illness which helps limit the impact to our healthcare system.”
Currently, the Omicron BA.2 variant is the most prevalent strain in New Hanover County; however, other variants are being detected elsewhere in America. After the surge in cases earlier in the year eased off, and mask mandates were dropped, many people have let down their guard.
“Summer brings vacations, play dates and family gatherings, and it’s important for everyone to stay up to date on their vaccines,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley in a news release. “Children ages 5 to 11 can now have the extra protection of a booster dose, which significantly increases protection against serious illness, hospitalization, death and long-term complications from COVID-19.”
Children are vulnerable to the virus and long-term symptoms present as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in young people which can affect different parts of the body. According to the NCDHHS, symptoms include coughing, body aches, shortness of breath, headaches, brain fog, and difficulty sleeping. It may also cause lasting damage to the heart, kidneys or other organs.
“Cases that start with mild symptoms can progress quickly, and even mild cases can have symptoms that last for several weeks or months,” said NCDHHS State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson in a news release.
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