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More than 35,000 children were vaccinated in the first week of Virginia’s pediatric rollout

Nearly 5 percent of the state’s 5 to 11-year-olds have gotten their first doses and officials are hoping for continued demand
An employee of Neighborhood Health, which provides primary care services through multiple...
An employee of Neighborhood Health, which provides primary care services through multiple health clinics in Fairfax County, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a pediatric patient.(Courtesy of Neighborhood Health)
Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 9:02 AM EST
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Among the things that Pearl Barry is excited to do once she’s fully vaccinated: hang out with friends, eat inside at restaurants and visit SkyZone, a sprawling indoor trampoline park.

“I mean, obviously,” said the eight-year-old from Bon Air. “Who wouldn’t be?” She got her first dose of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine on Wednesday night, and besides the hour-long wait at her local Walgreens, the process went relatively smoothly. The shot itself felt like the smallest pinch ever, Pearl said — more like a mosquito bite. And her dad, Tim Barry, was equally relieved to see both Pearl and her 5-year-old sister, June, take their first steps toward full immunization.

“Pearl probably asks to go to SkyZone two or three times a week,” he said. “So we’re really excited to have this coincide with Christmas and be able to be more free about seeing friends and family.”

Across Virginia, other parents are feeling the same jubilation. In the first week after federal officials authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds, more than 35,000 children received their first dose — close to 5 percent of the state’s total population in that age group, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health.

The rush by many families to embrace pediatric vaccines has been a relief for state health officials after national polling (conducted before the federal authorization) indicated only 27 percent of parents planned to get their children immunized “right away.” VDH hasn’t released demographic data on the 5 to 11-year-olds who have already received their first doses, making it difficult to determine whether disparities have emerged between different groups in getting the shots.

So far, though, health officials have seen “high interest among parents of young children who want to get them protected from COVID-19,” state vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said in a statement Wednesday. Some health districts are reporting even higher interest in pediatric vaccines than they saw when the shots were authorized for adolescents.

READ MORE ON VIRGINIAMERCURY.COM >>>>

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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