With approval imminent, state discusses plan to vaccinate children at school

Posted at 3:35 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 21:10:06-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Children 12 and older could start getting a COVID-19 vaccine as early as Thursday, May 13, according to state health officials.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s vaccine for young by next week, setting up shots for many before the beginning of the next school year. Health regulators in Canada have already authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for people as young as 12.

In anticipation of FDA approval, State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said Virginia has ordered an additional 150,000 doses of Pfizer, as around 420,000 kids would become eligible to get vaccinated.

If and when Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children, parents or guardians who want their kids vaccinated can take them to any place already offering the vaccine.

The state said it was working to add more spots, including pediatrician offices and schools.

Avula said he was meeting with superintendents next week to discuss possibilities.

"The ideal scenario is that we are able to do school-based vaccinations with that three-week interval before kids actually go home for the summer," Avula said. "So a lot of planning happening right now to figure out how to pull that off."

Even if approval were to happen next week, a potential vaccine rollout at school may not be possible until the end of May or the first week of June, Avula added.

Richmond and Henrico Health Districts' Nurse Manager Amy Popovich said parents would hear from their school through normal channels if something will happen.

She added parents of rising 7th graders should be conscious of timing as there are now more vaccines required by July 1 for school this fall -- but there must be at least two weeks between the second COVID shot -- and the other vaccines.

"We'd recommend getting your 12-year-old vaccinated with the COVID vaccine Pfizer once it's approved as soon as possible," Popovich said.