Kids ages 5 to 11 can get COVID-19 shots across Central Virginia starting this week
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Children ages 5 to 11 can finally get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Central Virginia as soon as Thursday. Health officials estimate any child in that age group who wants a shot will be able to get one within the month.
Appointments are already opening up: local health departments in Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield sent out alerts Wednesday, Nov. 3 urging parents to start looking for a time that works for them.
“Our team has been really busy adding those appointments into the system today and tomorrow,” Cat Long, Richmond-Henrico Health District Spokesperson said.
The majority of appointments are expected to be available starting next week. Many pediatric offices, family practices, and school-based clinics are also already offering appointments if parents would rather take that avenue.
VDH says there will be plenty of supply; the total number of doses coming into Virginia is approximately 377 thousand.
“About 252,000 doses are coming to doctors’ offices, health departments, other types of community providers, our community vaccination centers,” State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said. “125,000 of those doses will be coming to pharmacies to the federal retail pharmacy program.”
For anyone who has not been able to secure a slot for their child yet, health officials are urging parents not to worry. Next week, many appointments are expected to become available, beyond just the health department.
“Pediatricians will be able to offer the vaccines to five to 11-year-olds, as well as pharmacies, and our local health department events in the CVC sites,” Long said. “There are lots of opportunities available.”
Dr. Avula says, although children rarely get extremely sick with COVID-19, the vaccine is still crucial, especially with the threat of variants.
“When the Delta variant became the dominant strain, we saw a five-fold increase in pediatric hospitalizations,” Dr. Avula said. “A lot of that was just that the Delta variant is so much more contagious and with so many more pediatric infections, that resulted in a higher degree of severe disease.”
Vaccines could keep kids from being forced into long quarantines, especially with school in session.
“So far, the first couple of months, we’ve seen a lot of kids have to be quarantined, kept out of school for somewhere between 10 and 14 days,” Dr. Avula said. “When kids are fully vaccinated, they no longer need to be pulled out for quarantine.”
Part of the challenge with the statewide database is that it has to be a completely separate booking process from adult doses and boosters since the kid shots are a different mixture and a third of a typical Pfizer dose.
“Different providers are building their registration pathways for that and we should see those appointments start to pop up in the next couple of days,” Dr. Avula said. “I’ve already heard some people have been able to make appointments already.”
Click here to book an appointment. You have to select the “5 to 11 Pfizer” box when asked for vaccine type. If you don’t see any appointments, keep checking back or try calling your pediatrician, family practice or a pharmacy.
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