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Salisbury teen becomes one of first in age group to receive COVID-19 vaccine

SALISBURY — Drew Aron, a 14-year-old student at Salisbury Academy, last week became part of the county’s top 1%.

That is, the 1% of people younger than 17 who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

After the Pfizer vaccine expanded last week to adolescents aged 12 to 15, Drew became one of the first in the group to receive the shot in Rowan County. He walked into the J.F. Hurley YMCA in Salisbury to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and left feeling about the same.

“It was really easy. I didn’t really feel any side effects,” Drew said.

Comparing it to other types of vaccinations, Drew said, “It wasn’t very different besides the fact that it was in the YMCA.”

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says nearly nearly 40,000 Rowan County residents have been vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which doesn’t include several thousand people who live here and have received a shot from the Salisbury VA. Vaccine acceptance for Rowan County residents by age is as follows:

• 64.6% of people 75 and older

• 62.5% of people 65 to 74

• 39.7% of people 50 to 64

• 21.9% of people 25 to 49

• 16.3% of people 18-24

• 1.3% of those 17 and younger

In endorsing the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-old children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said most adolescents with COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms, but some can become severely ill and require hospitalization. There have been rare cases of children dying. It’s also possible for adolescents to transmit the virus, according to the CDC.

“I’m getting it because it affected people pretty badly,” Drew said.

He’s excited about doing a range of typical teenager activities with his friends this summer. Because state and federal officials last week also said vaccinated people can go maskless in most indoor situations, Drew said he’s also excited to leave his behind. He’s hopeful about not needing to wear a mask during the 2021-2022 school year, when he’ll be a freshman at Salisbury High School.

Teen Aron, Drew’s mom, said it’s important for teenagers who are eligible to be vaccinated because they’re often in close proximity with one another.

Both Teen and Drew said unvaccinated people also are more likely to ditch masks after the CDC’s and Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcements last week. While the CDC issued guidance that vaccinated people can leave masks behind in most indoor circumstances, Gov. Roy Cooper lifted the indoor mandate for most situations, which includes unvaccinated people. The state doesn’t currently have a system, Cooper said, to tell whether people are vaccinated or not.

Teen said her family is doing its part, leading by example and following the science around COVID-19.

“It’s important that we vaccinate the old and young because then we’re more likely that the community will be protected,” she said.

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