RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With five to 11 year old children now eligible for Pfizer shots, Virginia’s coronavirus vaccine program will embark on a pediatric pitch for the population with the fewest jabs: young children.
While shots for measles, and mumps have long been required for school, informing these parents about a recently approved vaccine is a new hurdle.
Almost one year after the first vaccines went into arms, the youngest school population was cleared to get a Pfizer jab, following a CDC recommendation last week.
Chris Crowley, a parent of a Richmond Public Schools first grader, said “we’re on board,” in an interview with 8News ahead of the CDC approval.
“If someone in her class or in her school ends up testing positive, then she’s that much safer.”
While kids are much less likely to become severely sick, State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula fielded questions from Henrico schools parents during a Monday night virtual town hall about vaccines.
“We know that kids are big spreaders of disease, and really drive outbreaks in a lot of settings,” Avula said, also noting that 1,000 children have been hospitalized by COVID-19, and “we sadly have lost ten kids.”
According to state data, more young Virginians are without COVID-19 vaccines than anyone else.
67% of children 12 to 15 years old have at least one dose, as well as 71% of 16 to 17-year-olds.
Vaccination rates for Virginia’s children trails the national average by 12.5 percent, according to CDC and Virginia Department of Health data.
Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci stumped for the science behind vaccine ability to prevent transmission and spread of the virus, including among children.
“We’ve got to make sure that we just don’t diminish, the impact not only on the individual child, but also on the spread of the infection,” Fauci said.
After months of trials, scientists found that it takes about one third of an adult Pfizer dose to provide enough protection for kids.
Now that the CDC has cleared these shots for kids, local health districts and clinics are welcoming parents to sign up.