© 2022 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

‘A Huge Relief’: NC, SC Open Vaccines Up To Those 12 And Up

COVID-19 vaccine line
Erin Keever
People stand in line awaiting the COVID-19 vaccine at CaroMont Health.

Fifteen-year-old Allison Oberlin-Pope and her mom stopped by an east Charlotte COVID-19 vaccine clinic after school on Thursday afternoon. Oberlin-Pope sat under a white tent in a parking lot between a StarMed Urgent Care and a Planet Fitness to receive her first Pfizer dose.

“I don’t like shots, so I was kind of nervous in the beginning,” Oberlin-Pope said. “It doesn’t actually hurt that much. It’s like a flu shot. It’s just the anticipation is scary.”

Oberlin-Pope says she “barely did anything” last summer. Her family has been pretty strict during the pandemic about who she can see and where. Now, she said, she’s looking forward to a June camping trip with a friend.

“There was a little bit of conflict in my family about that (trip) because we weren’t sure if it would be safe or not, so getting the vaccine before that trip is like, a huge relief,” Oberlin-Pope said.

Thursday was the first full day that Charlotte area children ages 12 and up could receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday afternoon approved the shot for use in children ages 12 to 15, following authorization by the Food and Drug Administration on Monday. Health officials in North Carolina and South Carolina on Wednesday also approved expanded use of the vaccine.

“There is huge enthusiasm among parents of this age group to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Catherine Ohmstede, a pediatrician with Novant Health. “As you know, young adolescents’ and teenagers’ social life is incredibly important to them.”

Ohmstede said it’s been difficult for these children to be isolated and to miss out on indoor group activities like sleepovers. And the more children are vaccinated, the greater the chance of reaching herd immunity, said Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease physician at Novant.

“To get to that 75 or 80% number, we had to have children included,” Priest said. “You’ll get closer to that 75 or 80% number by getting as many people as possible vaccinated in that age group.”

Eleven-year-old Cadence Norman is looking forward to getting the COVID-19 vaccine when she turns 12 in mid-June. She said she and her parents are working to time the two doses around her required school immunizations.

"I’ve been at school for half the semester--half the school year, I mean," Norman said. "And it would be nice to just go full-time in person for 7th grade next year and not have to worry about like, Covid or getting sick or anything like that.”

As of noon on Thursday, more than 50 children ages 12 to 15 had received COVID-19 vaccines at the Mecklenburg County Health Department’s vaccination site at Bojangles Coliseum.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Select Your Email Format

Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.