RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond Henrico Health District (RHHD) is prepared to start vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 as early as next month.
The White House has told states to get ready, as the FDA is scheduled to meet on Oct. 26 to decide whether or not to approve Pfizer’s request for emergency use authorization of their vaccine for younger children.
RHHD is opening new clinics and appointments because they want to ensure a smooth and easy process for families.
"They'll be able to get appointments or walk-in at pharmacies, at the mass community vaccination centers like at the Richmond Raceway, which is open six days a week," explained Cat Long, a spokeswoman for RHHD.
Long said in addition to reopening community vaccination centers, RHHD also recently launched four vaccine hubs at Second Baptist Church, Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, the district’s clinic on Cary Street in downtown Richmond and another at the Henrico West Clinic.
“We wanted to get them set up and get the ball rolling, and make sure that everything's running smoothly before the authorization happens," said Long.
Richmond and Henrico health officials are really focusing their efforts on educating families about the COVID-19 vaccine. This comes as a September Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed only one-third of parents with kids ages 5 to 11 were willing to get their children vaccinated right away.
"We really do encourage folks to get their kids vaccinated," Long noted. "There have been about 14 Virginian kids who have lost their lives to COVID-19, and every one of those 14 has been a tragedy."
From door-to-door canvassing to designating an employee for each Richmond and Henrico public school, health officials are doing everything they can to help families make the best decision for their children.
As part of the district’s education element, Dr. Danny Avula, the state’s vaccine coordinator, took part in a virtual Q&A at the science museum Thursday afternoon to help parents feel more comfortable getting their children a shot.