RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as six months arrived in North Carolina and the state is working on distributing the doses to the last group to qualify for shots. For this age group, there are two different brands of vaccines, with different numbers of doses. Where children can get the vaccine also depends on their age.
The first vials of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for children six months through five years old arrived at Health Park Pharmacy in Raleigh ahead of Tuesday’s vaccine clinic.
“I had one parent that said they’re coming back early from the beach just to get their child dosed,” pharmacy owner Steve Adkins said.
He also expects the Pfizer vaccine to arrive within one day, but said he’s hearing more demand for Moderna.
“Overwhelmingly, parents have been asking about Moderna. I think primarily because of the two doses instead of the three doses,” he said.
UNC pediatric infectious disease specialist, Dr. David Weber, explained that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are similar.
“The timing is a little bit different, but the basic technology is the same,” Weber said.
He said the biggest differences between the two brands in this age group are the number of doses and the amount of antigen in the shot – that’s what causes your immune system to react. Moderna’s shot contains higher levels than Pfizer’s.
“The Pfizer vaccine, with a slightly lower antigen load, might be associated with somewhat less side effects,” Weber said.
On the other hand, the Pfizer vaccine is a 3-dose series, meaning it takes longer for children to be fully vaccinated.
The age groupings are also slightly different.
Pfizer’s smallest dose of vaccine is designed for children ages six months to four years old. Five-year-olds are grouped with older children and have been eligible since Nov.
Moderna’s smallest dose is for children ages six months to five years old. Pfizer is a 3-dose series with 3-8 weeks between the first two doses and the third dose at least eight weeks after the second.
Moderna is a two-dose series with the second dose 4-8 weeks after the first.
Health Park Pharmacy has already booked appointments for more than 100 three and four-year-olds. However, CBS 17 learned younger babies and toddlers need to go to a doctor’s office, health department, or hospital clinic.
“In the state of North Carolina, pharmacies are only allowed to go down to three years old,” Adkins said.
If you want to book an appointment, the state health department allows you to search by brand. It’s important to check with providers to make sure they have the shots in stock and to make an appointment.
The Wake County Health Department will begin offering appointments on Thursday. You can book an appointment starting Wednesday.
Additionally, UNC Health will begin scheduling appointments on Thursday. You can make appointments here.
Furthermore, WakeMed will host a vaccine clinic for this age group on Saturday, June 25, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the WakeMed Andrews Conference Center on New Bern Avenue. You can schedule an appointment by signing up for WakeMed MyChart.
Finally, to make an appointment at Health Park Pharmacy, click here.