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Avula: Virginia to Receive Enough Vaccinations for More Than Half of 5-11 Population This Week

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carter Giglio, 8, joined by service dog Barney of Hero Dogs, shows off the bandaid over his injection site after being vaccinated, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, at Children's National Hospital in Washington. The U.S. enters a new phase Wednesday in its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, with shots now available to millions of elementary-age children in what health officials hailed as a major breakthrough after more than 18 months of illness, hospitalizations, deaths and disrupted education. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Centers for Disease Control gave final approval to COVID-19 vaccinations for kids aged five to 11 earlier this week. And, Virginia has been preparing for that rollout for some time now.

Vaccinations for the newly-eligible age group have already begun according to the state’s vaccine coordinator – Dr. Danny Avula.

During a call with reporters Wednesday, he said the state won’t have to worry about supply. 377,000 doses will be available this week.

“That total number is more than half the eligible population in Virginia. We have about 723,000 five to 11 year olds who are newly eligible," he said. "And so to have more than 50% of that vaccine available to us in this first week is great news and we will continue to receive more vaccine each week moving forward.” 

Most of the vaccine doses are going to doctor’s offices, local health departments and other community providers.

Avula spent some time addressing concerns about kids getting vaccinated. He said COVID-19 remains a mild disease for younger children, but there are benefits to getting them immunized against the disease. That includes keeping them in the classroom.

“When kids are fully vaccinated, they no longer need to be pulled out for quarantine,” he explained. 

Avula said children play a significant role in spread of the virus, so getting them vaccinated can help get the pandemic under control.

On Transition to Youngkin Administration

Virginia elected a new governor Tuesday – prompting questions about the COVID-19 vaccination effort under a new administration.

Avula fielded some of those questions Wednesday. He’s not expecting a lot of change once Glenn Youngkin is sworn in early next year.

“As long as the data continues to show that vaccination is helpful and safe and important to keep Virginians safe that we would continue to prioritize those efforts,” he said. 

Youngkin has said he is vaccinated against the virus and encouraged others to get the shots. He is opposed to vaccine mandates, however.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Nick Gilmore is a meteorologist, news producer and reporter/anchor for RADIO IQ.