What does the timeline look like for vaccinating young people in Virginia?


In this Wednesday, March 24, 2021 image from video provided by Duke Health, Alejandra Gerardo, 9, looks up to her mom, Dr. Susanna Naggie, as she gets the first of two Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations during a clinical trial for children at Duke Health in Durham, N.C. In the U.S. and abroad, researchers are beginning to test younger and younger kids, to make sure the shots are safe and work for each age. (Shawn Rocco/Duke Health via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Many of Virginia’s elderly have been fully vaccinated after early pushes to get shots to those most vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19. Now that vaccine eligibility is opened up to Phase 2 and vaccine approval for older kids is on the horizon, the Commonwealth is working to get shots to younger demographics.

According to VDH data, currently, people aged 20 to 29 represent around 8% of Virginia’s fully vaccinated population and people aged 16 to 19 represent around 1% of people fully vaccinated in the Commonwealth.

At a press briefing on Friday, Virginia Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula addressed the possible timeline for when vaccines could be approved for use in kids above the age of 12.

Avula says the CDC is continuing to affirm the likelihood that Pfizer will be approved for kids older than 12 in mid to late May. He says Moderna is expected to be approved two to three weeks later than Pfizer.

In preparation for a rollout for kids, the Virginia Department of Health is recruiting pediatricians to help with the process.

VDH is also working to engage school systems in the process. Health officials are meeting with all of Virginia’s superintendents next week to talk through options for getting vaccinations to kids.

Once the CDC approves the vaccine there will be a three-week window between the approval and schools letting out for summer. Avula says this opens an opportunity for students to get vaccinated at school.

Older teens and young adults are already eligible for the vaccine but following Johnson & Johnson’s temporary pause, some Virginia college students might be reaching full vaccination later than planned.

Colleges and universities across the state had Johnson & Johnson clinics set up for students to get vaccinated before leaving campus for the summer. After the pause on distribution, those campuses had to pivot to using either Pfizer or Moderna. Now that Johnson & Johnson is clear for use again some clinics have resumed using it.

J&J was reinstated last Friday and put back into use towards the middle of this week. Avula plans to have more information about people’s feedback on the reinstated vaccine next week.

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