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The COVID-19 vaccine is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a routine vaccine for children ages 18 and younger, according to a Feb. 10 announcement. However, the vaccine will not be required for children in North Carolina.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) approved the addition of the COVID-19 vaccine to the recommended immunization schedule for children and adolescents at an October meeting. The ACIP publishes this schedule annually.
Here is the recommended schedule for the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine based on age:
- Age 6 months–4 years: 2-dose series at 0, 4-8 weeks (Moderna) or 3-dose series at 0, 3-8, 11-16 weeks (Pfizer-BioNTech)
- Age 5–11 years: 2-dose series at 0, 4-8 weeks (Moderna) or 2-dose series at 0, 3-8 weeks (Pfizer-BioNTech)
- Age 12–18 years: 2-dose series at 0, 4-8 weeks (Moderna) or 2-dose series at 0, 3-8 weeks (Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech)
The CDC suggests people complete this primary series and receive the most recent booster dose based on their recommendations.
In North Carolina, all children in the state are required to receive certain immunizations. But, the ACIP’s recommendation will not result in the COVID-19 vaccine becoming a requirement, said Kelly Haight Connor, communications manager for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement over email.
Connor said what the recommendation does do is assure COVID-19 vaccinations continue to be provided free of charge to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured children through the federal Vaccine for Children program. It also helps streamline clinical guidance for health care providers.
The flu vaccine is another vaccine on the recommended federal schedule that is not required for school entry in North Carolina.
If the Commission for Public Health (CPH) mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for children, the vaccine would become a requirement according to N.C. state law. However, the CPH has not taken any such action.
View the CDC’s 2023 Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule here and ACIP’s recommendations here.