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N.C. kids are going back to school. How many 12- to 17-year-olds are vaccinated?

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With the start of school just days away for most districts, many 12- to 17-year-olds are not vaccinated in North Carolina. Students ages 12 and up can get the Pfizer vaccine, but as of July 21, only 24% of North Carolinians aged 12-17 were fully vaccinated, according to state Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen. By Aug. 16, that number has edged up to 29.3%.

EducationNC analyzed data from North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to see vaccinations by county for children 12-17. 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 administered by federal providers and by North Carolina providers. DHHS publishes the data in a dashboard on its website.

Here is the percentage of children ages 12 to 17 who have received at least one vaccine shot as of Aug. 16 and the percentage who are fully vaccinated as of Aug. 9.

This data was downloaded from DHHS’ dashboard on Aug. 17. Several counties had missing data from Aug. 16 for the percentage fully vaccinated, so the spreadsheet also displays Aug. 9 data that is more complete.

Below is a map that illustrates the distribution of vaccinations around the state. Hover over the county to see the percent of children ages 12 to 17 who have received at least one shot (as of Aug. 16) and the percent who are fully vaccinated (as of Aug. 9). The darker-shaded counties represent those with a higher percentage with at least one shot while the lighter-shaded counties are those with a lower percentage.

As in July, larger counties like Durham, Wake, and Orange have the highest percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds with at least one shot. Orange has 68.3% of 12- to 17-year-olds with one shot in their arm, Wake has 58.7%, and Durham 52.9%.

Six counties have less than 10% of 12- to 17-year-olds with at least one shot: Clay, Jones, Graham, Cherokee, Montgomery, and Currituck.

Vaccination data for Hyde and Tyrell counties is not available. According to DHHS, data for any county demographic subgroup (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, as of Aug. 9, Orange has 49.8%, Wake has 31.9%, and Durham has 33.3%. Watauga, notably, has 33.6% of 12- to 17-year-olds fully vaccinated.

Latest guidance from DHHS says schools should promote vaccination for students older than 12, teachers, staff members, and families. This guide provides several examples of how schools can promote vaccinations among students and staff, including hosting on-site vaccine events and sharing information with parents.

Several school districts are hosting vaccine clinics in the next two weeks. However, not all are following state guidance. The local board of education in Dare County voted not to actively promote vaccines, meaning they are not hosting clinics, sending information home to parents, or putting information on their website.

When asked for comment on Dare County Board of Education’s decision, Gov. Roy Cooper said, “Keeping students in the classroom in person is so critical for their education, and vaccines, masks, and other protections are the best way to do that. Already there are schools having to send children home because of COVID infections and quarantine protocols. Local education officials should do all they can to promote vaccines, require masks, and keep children safely in the classroom.”

Molly Osborne Urquhart

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