VDH prepares for COVID-19 vaccine rollout for 5-11 year olds

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 2:42 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 4:15 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia health leaders are anxiously awaiting approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for hundreds of thousands of children. The Virginia Department of Health is readying for a potential rollout sometime next month.

“We’ve been preparing for this inevitability. We actually thought it might come a little bit sooner, and there are a few different avenues that we’re taking to make sure we’ve got the capacity we need,” Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia Vaccine Coordinator.

Pfizer says a low dose of its vaccine is safe for children between the ages of five and 11. Once reviews and approvals are completed at the federal level, the state health department will move forward with its plan.

“What Pfizer has done is to select a dose that they want to see optimize immune response but minimize any side effects, so 10 micrograms appear to be that sweet spot where we can expect to see good, a good immune response, but also have a positive safety profile for kids in this age group,” said Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Pediatrician.

In Virginia, about 723,000 children fall into the five to 11 age group. In the City of Richmond and Henrico County, that number stands at about 48,000.

“This is very exciting news for all pediatricians across the country, and as a parent too of a child in this age group, I’m just personally excited about the potential to be vaccinating him in the not too distant future,” said Dr. Kimbrough.

When approval comes, the state says parents can seek out that COVID-19 shot in a variety of ways, mainly pharmacies and health department vaccine clinics. Doctor Avula says they will open a number of larger clinics across the state in the coming week to deal with demand and hope to take some stress off pediatric doctors.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a time where both the public health infrastructure and the health care infrastructure have been under such duress,” said Dr. Avula.

VCU says it’s seeing an increase in pediatric COVID-19 cases in the hospital. A spokesperson also adds they are not in as dire a situation as other states, but a vaccine for this age group couldn’t come any faster.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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