CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The COVID-19 vaccine rollout took another big step forward Monday as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended its emergency authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to kids age 12 to 15.
This decision makes millions of adolescents eligible for the shot. Here's what parents need to know about getting their kids vaccinated against COVID-19.
First and foremost, the shot is safe and effective. More than 2,000 teens were part of Pfizer's clinical trials and data shows the vaccine was 100% effective at preventing COVID-19.
Doctors also say that side effects such as a sore arm, body aches and a fever are common in children, just like adults. Those side effects also typically don't last longer than 24 hours.
Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University says it’s no surprise that the vaccine does not need to be modified for adolescents.
“Immune systems of children are wonderfully responsive,” Dr. Schaffner said. “The immune systems are not calibrated to the size of the child.”
Caleb Chung, a 12-year-old who took part in Duke University's vaccine trial, told WCNC Charlotte's Sarah French being part of the study was important to him.
"What mainly motivated me to do it was definitely just the thought of helping other children feel more confident in the vaccine," he said.
A CDC panel will meet Wednesday with a vote expected to officially approve the shot for adolescents as young as 12. Providers in the Charlotte area are already preparing to offer the shot to children as early as this week. StarMed says all of its vaccine clinics will offer walk-up appointments and Mecklenburg County health officials are working closely with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to create a smooth rollout plan.
In South Carolina, health officials say they're working with school districts across the state to provide family clinics, where parents and kids can get vaccinated together. Atrium Health and Novant will also offer the vaccine for patients as young as 12 at their clinics.
For kids who might be afraid of needles, Caleb offers this piece of advice for getting the vaccine.
"If you don't like needles, then just don't look at it," Caleb advised. "That really helps honestly."