RICHMOND — All Virginians from the age of six months and older are eligible now to get a free COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Virginia Department of Health, following the unanimous recommendations on June 18 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna pediatric vaccines for the youngest of children.
The CDC’s independent panel of experts, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months through 4 years and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months through 5 years. The CDC director gave her final approval to the recommendation later that afternoon, the Virginia Department of Health said in a news release.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a three-dose series with the first two doses administered three weeks apart and a third dose at least two months after the second dose.
The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose series administered four weeks apart.
The Virginia Department of Health would like to stress to parents that providers can choose which vaccine to offer to their patients, the VDH said.
Some providers may choose to offer both vaccines, while others may decide only to offer one. Parents should follow up with their pediatrician or other healthcare provider for specific information about the vaccines they’ll be offering, advised the VDH.
Because VDH has been planning for the expansion of vaccine eligibility and availability for several months, families will have many options for where to get their children a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Your support is vital to local journalism. Please subscribe.
Vaccination sites may include:
- Pediatric offices
- Family practice offices
- Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
- Retail pharmacies for children ages 3 years and older
- Local health departments
The following is a statement from Virginia’s State Vaccination Coordinator and Director of the Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Immunization Christy Gray:
“With the CDC’s endorsement of the recommendation of its independent panel of advisers that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be safely administered to children 4 years of age and younger down to 6 months of age and the Moderna vaccine to children 5 years of age down to 6 months, one of the final fronts in the battle against COVID-19 has opened up.
“We at VDH are pleased to begin offering this vaccine to parents who want to protect their youngest children from severe illness and hospitalization due to this virus. There are a variety of venues open to Virginia parents to vaccinate their children, including community vaccination events set up by local health departments, pharmacies and, of course, pediatrician’s offices. We urge parents to consult with their child’s healthcare provider about vaccination.
“VDH is excited that parents have this opportunity and are empowered to protect their youngest children against this virus.”
— Monique Calello (she/her) is a health & social justice reporter with The News Leader in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. You can reach her at email@example.com.