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How many 12-17-year-olds are vaccinated in North Carolina?

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During a July 21st press conference, state Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen revealed that only 24% of North Carolinians aged 12-17 are fully vaccinated.

With school slated to start in less than a month for most students, and having already started for those in year-round schools, there is a lot of anxiety about what is going to happen. Students ages 12 and up can get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, but those younger than 12 can’t. And in the 12-17 age group, “We still have a long way to go,” Cohen said in the press conference.

North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) tracks the number and percentage of North Carolinians who have received at least one vaccine shot and the number and percentage who are fully vaccinated. It also tracks vaccinations done by federal providers and those done by North Carolina providers. DHHS publishes the data in a dashboard on its website.

EducationNC analyzed the data to see vaccinations by county for children ages 12 to 17. We pulled the data from the DHHS dashboard on July 14th and used the data from July 5th for this analysis, as it was the most complete data at the time.

Here is that data. You can find more recent data on DHHS’ website.

Below is a map that illustrates the distribution of vaccinations around the state by July 5. Hover over the county to see the percent of children ages 12 to 17 who have received at least one shot and the percent who are fully vaccinated. The darker-shaded counties represent those that have a higher percentage with at least one shot while the lighter shaded counties are those that have a lower percentage.

When it comes to the highest percentage of students with one vaccine shot, it’s the bigger districts like Durham, Wake, and Orange that are doing the best. Orange has the highest percentage, with 61.8% of 12-17-year-olds with one shot in their arm. Wake is in second with 48.9%, and Durham is third with 42.9%.

Five counties have less than 5% of 12-17-year-olds with at least one shot. Those are Cherokee, Clay, Gates, Graham, and Swain. Another 19 have less than 10% with at least one shot.

Vaccination data for Hyde and Tyrell counties is not available. According to DHHS, data for any county demographic sub-group (like age group) that has a population of less than 500 will be suppressed for privacy.

When it comes to fully-vaccinated children ages 12 to 17, Orange has 47.2%, Wake has 28.4%, and Durham has 29.5%. Watauga actually beats both Wake and Durham, however, for fully-vaccinated 12-17-year-olds with 30.1%.

During the press conference on July 21st, the state also released an updated version of its guidance regarding COVID-19 prevention in schools. That new guidance reveals that families won’t be required to provide vaccination status but that districts may ask for voluntary submission.

“Schools that plan to request voluntary submission of documentation of COVID-19 vaccination status should use the same standard protocols that are used to collect and secure other immunization or health status information from students,” the guidance states. “The protocol to collect, secure, use, and further disclose this information should comply with relevant statutory and regulatory requirements, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and its regulatory requirements.”

The guidance also says that administrators can use the documentation of student and worker COVID-19 vaccination status “consistent with applicable laws and regulations, including those related to privacy, to inform prevention practices.”

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.

Molly Osborne Urquhart

Molly Osborne is the vice president and Chief Operating Officer for EducationNC.