Virginia is prepping for the pediatric COVID vaccine rollout, boosters


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula is helping make sense of the latest COVID-19 booster news and questions about the pediatric vaccine.

For starters, Dr. Avula says the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine could be in the arms of children by Thanksgiving. He says Virginia is already prepping for the pediatric vaccine rollout.

“We are absolutely preparing for that right now, this week,” Dr. Avula said.

According to Dr. Avula, the Commonwealth is not wasting any time in its plan to administer the coronavirus vaccine to children ages five to 11.

“We are ensuring that that vaccine is making its way into Virginia. It is being distributed to pediatricians and family practice docs all over the state,” Dr. Avula said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to make a recommendation on the pediatric Pfizer vaccine Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plans to review the vaccine for kids the first week of November.

Unlike the mass vaccination centers we saw with the adult rollout, Virginia pediatricians take priority in this distribution process.

“We know that most kids and their families are most comfortable getting their vaccines at either their pediatrician’s office or at a pharmacy,” Dr. Avula said.

As for the adults, all three vaccine types are now approved for boosters.

Both the FDA and CDC say it’s okay to mix and match your shots. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study has shown Moderna and Pfizer may spark a better immune response than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Dr. Avula says more clarity may still be needed on which vaccine produce the best immune response, but mixing and matching won’t hurt you.

“We certainly know now there’s no negative effect,” he said.

To be eligible for the Pfizer or Moderna booster, you need to be either age 65 and older, age 18 and over with an underlying condition, or age 18 and older working in a high-risk profession. The CDC has a list of those professions.

However, Dr. Avula says when you go to get your booster shot, you don’t need to bring proof of employment.

“You just need to self-attest to, ‘yes my occupation puts me at higher risk,’” he said.

In the meantime, adults who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago can make an appointment for any type of booster right now through a pharmacy or by searching Virginia’s clinic website.

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