CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — For the past couple of years, many students across North Carolina started school with masks or social distancing requirements. 

But this year is different for most school districts– students will return to class that looks more like it did before the pandemic, but COVID is still spreading. Doctors say if parents want to give their children another layer of protection, there’s still time.

According to the CDC, about 30 percent of 5-11-year-olds nationwide are fully vaccinated, but only about 3.5% have received a booster.

Children five years and older who completed a series of Pfizer vaccines at least five months ago are eligible for a booster. Children who are moderately or severely immunocompromised qualify for a booster dose at least three months after their second dose in the initial vaccine series, according to the CDC.

UNC Pediatric Infectious Disease expert, Dr. David Weber says the booster takes effect much more quickly than the primary vaccine series.

“In terms of a booster, it kicks in virtually the next day; it’s already working, so the priming is much shorter with the booster,” he explained.

He says we do expect an omicron-specific booster to be authorized this fall, but it’s not yet clear if that will be available for children right away.

“It’s not yet clear whether it will be available down to age 12, age six, or only for adults,” he noted. “In terms of the omicron booster, there will be a very short interval between your last booster and this booster; at worst they’d probably have to wait a month, so, I’d recommend if they’re eligible for their shots they should get them now.”

Children who received the Moderna vaccine are not currently eligible for boosters, according to the CDC.