Northam: Virginia is ready for 5 to 11-year-old vaccine approval

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 3:36 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 7:15 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Federal health officials hinted at a COVID-19 vaccine approval by Christmas for those under the age of 12, but state health leaders say they are being told it could be even sooner.

“I think the urgency is out there and there are families that are anxiously awaiting, so the sooner that can happen the better, but certainly if we can shoot for the end of the year,” said Governor Ralph Northam, (D) Virginia.

Next up for COVID-19 vaccine approval is children between 5 and 11 years old.

The timeline has shifted on when that approval could come. But Tuesday afternoon, Northam remained hopeful that it will happen before the end of the year.

Federal health leaders say by Christmas, but it could happen sooner as the delta variant continues to rage through unvaccinated groups.

Between boosters and now an anticipated earlier than expected arrival of under 12 vaccines, state health leaders have a lot on their hands.

“There’s been a lot that’s happened in the past few weeks, I’ll tell you that,” said Christy Gray, VDH MDH, Director, Division of Immunization.

In Virginia, the health department says there are 723,069 children in that population group.

The health department is working to make sure private providers, like pediatricians and pharmacies, have an ample supply of that vaccine once the time comes.

“When that recommendation and authorization comes down, we already have the vaccines in those offices. The providers are trained on how to administer those vaccines, how to store and handle them,” said Gray.

With the state positivity rate climbing, Northam says restrictions aren’t the way to contain COVID-19 this year. That’s because there are vaccines now, compared to this time last year when there wasn’t any.

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