RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Health announced on Wednesday it will distribute the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents ages 12 through 15.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine for emergency use authorization on Monday but before the vaccine could be distributed it also needed an endorsement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC panel voted to back use of the vaccine for the 12 to 15 age group on Wednesday afternoon.
“Generally, adolescents who contract COVID-19 usually do not develop severe symptoms, but they contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Vaccinating adolescents, along with the rest of Virginia’s eligible population, will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and make our communities safer,” said Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s vaccination coordinator. “Getting this safe, effective vaccine means that these adolescents won’t have to miss school, sporting events or other activities if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, taking another step toward getting their lives back to normal.”
In an interview on Wednesday morning, a health department spokesperson said that following CDC endorsement, vaccines could be available for adolescents in Virginia as early as Thursday. VDH says parents must ensure their child either gets an appointment for Pfizer or attends a clinic with the Pfizer vaccine, no other brands are available for 12 to 15-year-old children.
Children will not be able to go get their vaccination alone. They must be accompanied by either a parent, guardian or someone acting “in loco parentis.” This means if a child wanted to get vaccinated at a school event, a teacher can help fulfill consent requirements. If a child is receiving their vaccine at a clinic, community vaccination center, pharmacy or other provider, VDH encourages families to check the consent requirements before going.
Adults will be asked for the child’s birthday at any of the health-department-run vaccination events, other providers may require a birth certificate or other form of identification.
State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula met with school superintendents to stress the importance of vaccinating this younger age group. He asked them to consider establishing vaccination clinics at schools if they haven’t already. The health department says these on-site clinics will be convenient, help overcome access and equity obstacles, and make it so parents only have to sign a consent form for their child to get the shot.