RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel has given Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 the green light. The Virginia Department of Health said they’re ready for rollout.
The FDA received the recommendation from its independent advisory panel on Tuesday to expand the Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer vaccine to include children ages five to 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to meet on November 2 to discuss the topic as well. If the FDA and CDC give the final green light, Virginia will begin giving out the pediatric doses.
The state’s vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula, called the decision a major milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“VDH has been planning for several months for the eventual rollout of this vaccine to young children, working with a wide range of healthcare partners to get these vulnerable children vaccinated as quickly as possible, utilizing channels ranging from pediatricians, family practices, and pharmacies to Community Vaccination Centers and local health departments,” Avula said during a briefing with Richmond City Mayor Levar Stoney. “We await action by the FDA and then the CDC’s final decision, hopefully by next week. There’s light at the end of this pandemic tunnel sooner rather than later.”
The decision means the Pfizer vaccine could be available for everyone five and up as soon as November.
Virginia health leaders have been planning for the expansion, and said there are several options for children to get the shot like pediatrician’s offices, family practice offices, community vaccination centers, pharmacies, school-based clinics and mobile vaccine units.
VDH said demand could outweigh supply in the first few weeks as doses aren’t expected to come all at once.
The state’s initial allocation of 252,000 doses was ordered in three waves. Doses will also be given to the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership which accounts for roughly 50% of the state’s allotment. A smaller weekly allocation is expected after that. The first delivery will begin sometime during the week of November 1.
Once shots are available, parents can check with their child’s provider or find locations for their child to get the vaccine by visiting www.vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling (877) VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1).