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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

1 in 6 North Carolina adults have gotten COVID-19 booster

COVID-19 vaccine
News & Record / via Gov. Roy Cooper
Guilford County Health & Human Services registered nurse Sydney Robinson administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a client at the Mount Zion Baptist church vaccination clinic in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday, February 11, 2021.

New state data shows more than 1.3 million of the roughly 8.2 million North Carolina adults who qualify for a COVID-19 booster shot — or one in six eligible residents — have gotten the extra protection against a virus that has killed about 775,000 Americans.

The information released Wednesday by the state Department of Health and Human Services also shows about one in eight kids ages 5 to 11 have gotten an initial dose. Overall, 62% of North Carolinians eligible to be vaccinated have come in for at least one shot.

“As people reunite with long-distance loved ones or resume business travel, prioritize staying safe,” state health officials advised last week. “Hold off on visits until you’re fully vaccinated and always check (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) travel guidelines.”

Unvaccinated individuals are more than five times as likely to get COVID-19 as vaccinated individuals and are 25 likelier to die, according to the most recent surveillance report released by state health officials.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are down substantially from their mid-summer and early-fall highs. Spread of the virus has held flat in recent weeks, though transmission still remains very high, according to state health department data.

During a news conference earlier this month, Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state's top public health official, said she got her 7- and 9-year-old daughters vaccinated within days of the kid-sized Pfizer vaccine becoming available. She encourages parents to talk to their child’s pediatrician about concerns they may.

Since Nov. 13, any adult who has brought someone to one of nine family vaccination sites for their first dose has qualified for a $25 reward. The incentive is set to last until Thursday.

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Bryan 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.