Avula: A new COVID vaccine for children 5-11 years old is in the works


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — From Richmond to Hampton Roads via a Zoom teleconference, Virginia health officials Tuesday presented the unvarnished numbers on vaccinations in Virginia.

Faith leaders held a virtual meeting to talk COVID-19 vaccines with Deputy Secretary for Virginia Health and Human Services Dr. Vanessa Walker Harris on Tuesday morning.

Walker Harris talked about booster shots and other topics a day after the FDA fully approved Pfizer’s vaccine. The state’s vaccine coordinator also said a different vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is in the works.

“Only 51%t of Black Virginians have been vaccinated as compared to 90% of Native Americans, 66% of Latinos, 76% of Asian Americans, and 56% of white Virginians have been vaccinated,” said Walker Harris.

Federal officials have mandated vaccines for nursing home workers, the military, and others. Third vaccinations are offered to the immunocompromised and now health officials are calling for boosters for those who have had two Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations. Second Johnson & Johnson vaccinations are pending. But, now we are learning those who get the so-called third shot will need a fourth shot.

Dr. Kevin Swann, the pastor of Ivy Baptist Church, posed a question to Virginia’s Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula about those who are immunocompromised and getting the third shot.

Swann: “Is it to suggest in eight months again they are going to have to take it [a booster] also?”

Avula: “The anticipated recommendation is that we would want to start boosting [immunocompromised] people at least eight months out.”

Vaccinations are slowly climbing in Virginia, but that could change soon as more organizations including health systems move toward mandatory vaccinations.

Jesse Goodrich (Photo courtesy: Riverside Health System)

On Tuesday, Jesse Goodrich, Riverside Health Vice President of Human Resources, sent 10 On Your Side in a statement:

Our biggest priority continues to be the safety and health of our team, our patients, and our community. As spikes from the Delta variant continue, our leadership team is weighing the options of requiring the vaccine. As we finalize our decision, we continue to provide education and access for team members and the community so they can obtain the vaccine, and we strongly encourage all team and community members who have not yet received the vaccine to do so for the greater public health.”

Only the Board of Health or the General Assembly could require vaccinations for children. Pfizer is approved for ages 12 and up, but a different vaccine for ages 5 to 11 is in the works, said Avula.

“Instead of the full dose that 12- to 15-year-olds [get, which is] the exact vaccine as those 16 and up use –they are really narrowing in on a third strength,” said Avula.

As more shots are recommended or required, if you have misplaced your vaccination records and need copies, state officials suggest you head to the website https://vaccinate.virginia.gov/ for copies of your records.

For more on Virginia’s booster shot rollout, click here.

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Senatara COVID-19 Infographic (Dec. 2020)

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