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Health

COVID-19 vaccines for toddlers may arrive soon in North Carolina, but demand is unclear

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COVID-19 vaccinations for children 6 months to 5 years old could be available in North Carolina as early as next week. The final approval from the Food and Drug Administration for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may be granted this weekend, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Whether there is a demand for those vaccines remains to be seen.

Dr. Katie Passaretti, vice president and enterprise chief epidemiologist at Atrium Health, said the vaccines have already been sent to health care systems. They’re just waiting for the federal approval to distribute them. But Passaretti isn’t expecting a huge demand.

“I don’t think anyone predicts a tsunami of people wanting their kids five and under to get vaccinated," she said Wednesday morning on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks. "I’d love to be pleasantly surprised but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

As of June 8, about 36% of children nationwide ages 5-11 had received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine for that age group was authorized in October.

Passaretti says these vaccinations are safe and effective and the data show any side effects are generally mild, such as fever or “the usual stuff that kids deal with when they get vaccines, with no indication of more severe side effects than any of the other childhood vaccines.”

Pfizer’s vaccine is intended for kids up to 4 years old. Moderna’s is for kids up to age 5.

Last week, the White House said it had 10 million doses of the vaccines ready to ship once the FDA gives the final go-ahead.

The state health department says all local health departments will receive the vaccine if the approval occurs.

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