Richmond area health leaders prepare for younger children’s vaccine rollout

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — President Joe Biden revealed his administration’s plan to vaccinate children under 12-years-old ahead of Pfizer’s approval.

Biden said he’s working closely with local community-based sites, healthcare providers and pharmacies so that there’s easier access and equity for families.

Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of the Richmond and Henrico Health District, said they are already preparing to roll out the vaccine for children.

“We are going to put the vaccine in play earlier in anticipation that it’s going to get authorized,” she said.

Pfizer is waiting for approval from the FDA of its vaccine in children 5 to 11-years-old. Viray said it’s approved soon, appointments may be necessary to secure the shot.

“Because it’s a different dose of the Pfizer vaccine they are packing it separately, so it is not as widely available right up front,” she said.

In the Richmond area, health leaders are seeing a higher rate in cases among people under 20-years-old. With more people going out and the return to in-person schooling, Viray said there’s a shift in the pandemic’s target demographic

“We are seeing a shift in the demographics in regard to the rates of covid in Richmond and Henrico in particular,” she said.

Since the vaccine isn’t approved for younger children yet, she said that age group is most at-risk for infection. However, compared to other areas where children with COVID-19 are overwhelming hospitals, Viray said the region has been fortunate.

“We never want to hear about our kids being hospitalized or our kids dying,” she said.

The FDA’s Independent Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet next week and then the CDC’s Independent Advisory Committee will meet in early November.

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