Virginia ready to vaccinate 5-11 year olds, Avula lays out plan during briefing

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — By the time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the use of a smaller Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dose for children, Virginia had already been planning for the rollout of these doses.

The youth-specific doses contain about a third as much vaccine and is a slightly different mix of ingredients, they are stored in different colored bottles.

Dr. Danny Avula spoke about the rollout plans during a phone call briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Avula, 377,000 youth doses have already started to be delivered. These will be split up with 252,000 going to doctor’s offices and health departments, and 125,000 going to pharmacies. Pediatricians have already started to receive their supplies and pharmacies should start seeing doses arrive by this weekend.

Overall, Virginia has around 723,000 kids ages 5 to 11. Avula said there are no concerns about vaccine availability for kids.

He explained that while children are less likely than adults to have a severe case of COVID-19 it is not harmless. Since the start of the pandemic, 10 kids have died from COVID-19 in Virginia and about 1,000 have been hospitalized with the virus. With the spread of the Delta variant, there was an increase in child hospitalizations.

Avula said there is a clear benefit to getting kids vaccinated and keeping them safe.

Kids being vaccinated helps to limit community spread and can protect more at-risk populations. They will also be able to miss less school time if they no longer have to quarantine after an exposure.

During the briefing, Avula explained that especially with older kids parents should explain to them the importance of protecting others.

For parents to register their kids the process will be slightly different to ensure they receive the correct vaccine type but they can still do it through vaccinate.virginia.gov or vaccines.gov. People can also work with their child’s pediatrician to set up an appointment for them and get any lingering questions answered.

Just like the adult Pfizer shots, kids will need two doses, three to six weeks apart.

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