HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Mother's Day 2021 was filled with renewed optimism for one Henrico County family -- a stark contrast from last year's holiday.
"I could not have imagined a year ago that we would still be here in the midst of the pandemic," said Brittany Rose. "There's certainly a feeling of hope that I didn't have this time last year."
For Rose, the greatest Mother's Day gift didn't come wrapped in a bow.
"There is going to be a way that I can protect my family, and that is a tremendous gift," she said about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Excitement and relief are just two of the emotions she said are running through her mind because soon, all of her children will be vaccinated against the virus.
Last up is 13-year-old Madeleine.
"This pandemic has been hard on everybody, but it's been really hard on teens," Rose said.
She explained coronavirus robbed her teens of connecting with others their age in-person and having new experiences.
It's something Rose said is critical to their adolescent development.
"They really should be able to be with friends so the thought of giving that back to them is really exciting," she said.
Health officials believe Pfizer should receive emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration to offer its vaccine to 12-15-year-olds later this week.
Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of the Richmond-Henrico Health Districts, said this is critical for three main reasons.
One: it protects them.
"We have always seen the impact on children," Dr. Viray said. "Even though we've only seen maybe a handful or two deaths in the state of Virginia, those are incredible losses to undertake."
Two: it protects their family.
"We know that children often live within their larger families, whether it be their parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, friends," Viray explained. "If they become infected, they could expose others."
And three: we're in a race against COVID-19 variants.
"If we don't vaccinate our children because they don't get as sick, we are allowing for more potential for variants to emerge," she said.
Dr. Viray also mentioned the Commonwealth won't be able to reach herd immunity, which means vaccinating at least 70% of the population, without including children.
For those wondering if there's anything different about vaccinating an adult versus a child, Dr. Viray said it's essentially the same.
In the meantime, Brittany Rose encourages families to make the decision that best suits them.
For her, it was an easy choice, and now she hopes for brighter days ahead for her children.
"I really look forward to them being able to go out into the world in the way they should be able to do," Rose said.
When Pfizer does receive approval, health officials say parents have several options to access a COVID shot for their children.
That includes pharmacies, walk-up clinics, and pediatric offices.
There is also discussion about vaccinating students at school, but no plans have been finalized at this time.
Virginians age 16+ now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Register on the Vaccinate Virginia website or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343). You can search for specific vaccines as well as which are available near you via the Vaccine Finder website.
Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
How to Protect Yourself and Others When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.
These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.