Children as young as 6 months eligible for vaccine

Published 8:30 am Thursday, June 23, 2022

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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 (VDH).

The announcement comes following the unanimous recommendations on June 18 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna pediatric vaccines for the youngest of children.

“This is a long awaited moment for several families in our district: the ability to provide protection against severe disease for their young children. Now all those 6 months old and up can obtain a COVID-19 vaccination. Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond said.

Vaccines for the children ages 6 months old to 4/5 years old — both Pfizer and Moderna — will start to be delivered to the Piedmont Health District beginning this week for re-distribution to the community health providers.

Most of the vaccine shipment will go to community pediatricians.

The remainder will be distributed amongst the seven local health departments in Prince Edward, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Nottoway, Amelia, Cumberland and Buckingham counties.

Only select pharmacies will be offering COVID-19 vaccine for this age group.

In Virginia pharmacists can only vaccinate children age 3 and older.

“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, said Virginia’s State Vaccination Coordinator and Director of the VDH Division of Immunization Christy Gray. “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.”

Although COVID-19 is less of a threat for children than older adults, it remains one of the top ten causes of death in children. 442 children have died in the U.S. as a result of COVID-19 infection, and COVID-19 is deadlier than other vaccine-preventable illnesses such as flu or rotavirus. During the Omicron surge, those children age 0-4 years, for whom there was no vaccine available, had a higher rate of hospitalization than children 5-17 years old. In recommending the COVID-19 vaccine for this youngest age group, the CDC is addressing a significant health burden for our children, and giving parents the opportunity to provide greater protection.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a three-dose series with the first two doses administered 3 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.