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State vaccine coordinator: Va. won’t offer COVID-19 vaccine to those 12-15 until CDC approves

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 10:11 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia’s vaccination coordinator says the state won’t offer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to those 12 to 15 years of age until the CDC recommends it.

This comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization to include those in that age bracket. The EAU previously covered people 16 and older.

“While this is an exciting first step toward offering this vaccine and its protection to more than 400,000 Virginians, we must await additional federal approval before doing so. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is expected to meet Wednesday to discuss today’s action by the FDA and make a recommendation to the CDC whether to approve using this vaccine in adolescents. Virginia would not begin offering the vaccine to those 12 and older until the CDC approves doing so,” Virginia vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said.

Avula said the state has already been making plans to begin administering the vaccine to those in the age group when the time comes.

“We will be administering it,” said Dr. Torino Jennings of the Capital Area Health Network, who is just waiting for the CDC to say yes. “Young people want to get the vaccine and a lot of parents of younger people want them to get the vaccine, but of course it hasn’t been available until then now.”

Jennings points to parents who have already been vaccinated.

“If there’s something that is new, let me try it before my child gets it and this is a situation where it’s actually happened...I received the vaccine before my patients received it and as a father, I’m glad I received the vaccine before my kids have the opportunity to get it,” he said.

Jennings wants adults to have confidence that it’s safe for their kids.

“The side effects for the adolescent population is much like what we’ve experienced, so we have that frame of knowledge to say, ‘OK when I got my first shot, I was a little sore. When I got my second shot, I felt a little sick but I was able to get through it,’ and we should expect the same for this age group,” Dr. Jennings added.

He describes it as a community effort, with each one playing a part to help all of us.

“If you want to join in and help and get back to normal, this is one way where everybody can join in and do that,” Dr. Jennings said.

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