Drop in vaccinations among NC teens mirrors that of adults

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The drop in demand for the COVID-19 vaccine among 12 to 17-year-olds in the two months since they could receive it largely mirrors the decline for adults 18 and older since the process opened up in April, a CBS17.com data analysis found.

And with fewer first doses going into people’s arms each week, kids are making up an even smaller share of that total.

That, along with the nearly identical shapes of the line graphs representing the new weekly vaccinations since both groups became eligible show how far off-pace the vaccine push has fallen among those under 18 since May.

“If you’re not vaccinated yourself you’re probably not in a rush to vaccinate your child,” Duke pediatrician Dr. Michael Smith said.

In each of the past four weeks, children accounted for between 21-22 percent of the total number of first doses given across the state. They made up 33 percent of those first doses during the weeks of May 10 and May 17.

Source: CBS17.com from NCDHHS data.

The demand among adults began to drop in early April when more than 342,000 first doses went out across North Carolina.

Four weeks later?

The dose count was roughly a quarter of that, at just under 80,000.

Virtually, the same kind of drop showed up in the kids’ vaccination numbers.

Source: CBS17.com from NCDHHS data.

There were nearly 43,000 first doses going into the arms of the state’s children during the week of May 17. The total four weeks later was also roughly one-fourth of that, at just under 11,000.

Among both groups, those numbers have continued to fall, albeit not nearly as dramatically, in the weeks since.

Furthermore, the gap between counties appears to be even wider among vaccinations for kids than it does for adults.

Wake County leads the state with more than 27,000 children between 12 and 17 getting his or her first shot, with Mecklenburg (16,430), Guilford (8,111) and Durham (6,286) counties much further behind.

But in two counties — Tyrrell and Hyde — the numbers are so small that the state Department of Health and Human Services suppresses them for privacy reasons. Among counties where numbers are disclosed, Clay County (pop. 10,946) has the smallest number of kids getting the vaccine — just 17.

“The biggest predictor of whether or not you want your child to be vaccinated is whether you are vaccinated,” Smith said. “So I will say here in the Triangle, we have very high rates of immunization. Everyone wants their kids vaccinated.”

He continued, “I think in other parts of the country and other parts of the state … interest in vaccination is just not that high.”

Smith said parents of even younger children have asked him when their turn will arrive for the vaccine.

The Pfizer product is only authorized for those 12 years of age and older, with clinical trials underway for those between 5-11 years old.

Additionally, experts have said the emergency-use authorization might not come until the fall — something that some parents are uneasy in waiting for.

“People ask me, you know, ‘can I fudge the date on the birth certificate’?” Smith said. “Or ‘do you have any spare doses’?”

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.

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