Virginia Now Vaccinating Younger Kids; Dept. Of Education Encouraging School Clinics

May 13, 2021

Vaccination providers around Virginia are now administering the Pfizer shot to anyone age 12 and older.

The state’s vaccine coordinator, Doctor Danny Avula, said it’s still important to get children vaccinated, even though they’re less likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19.  "The fact that they get mild or asymptomatic disease in some ways makes it more possible for them to spread COVID," Avula said during a call with reporters Thursday.

Credit AP Photo/Ron Harris

Avula said there are individual and community benefits to getting kids vaccinated because they’re less likely to contract or spread COVID-19.  He also noted that fully vaccinated people don’t have to quarantine after an exposure to COVID-19.  "The fact that they don’t have to be out of school for 7 to 14 days, the fact that they don’t have to be out of sports teams or games for 7 to 14 days, all of those provide really practical benefits."

The state Department of Education is encouraging local divisions to hold vaccination clinics at schools.  State superintendent James Lane said local school superintendents and state officials discussed logistics and other concerns earlier in the week.  Lane told reporters superintendents were generally receptive to the idea.  Clinics would likely be staffed in cooperation with local health departments.  Lane noted school clinics can alleviate transportation concerns and don't require a parent to be present, though parental approval is still needed. 

Virginia’s public schools cannot currently mandate COVID-19 vaccination.  That would require action by the General Assembly.  Governor Ralph Northam said recently he believes that is unlikely.

Many pharmacy providers are already scheduling appointments for 12 to 15 year olds.  State-run community vaccination centers will begin vaccinating the age group Friday.

More information regarding community vaccination centers:

(Richmond, Va.) — Virginia’s state-run Community Vaccination Clinics (CVCs) will begin offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12-15 on Friday, following federal approval Wednesday of the vaccine for that age group.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced to providers late Wednesday they could begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds after the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) approved its use. The vaccine previously had been approved for use in those 16 and older. Two other COVID-19 vaccines are available for people 18 and older.

Virginia’s CVCs opened in March and have vaccinated over 323,000 people. They use a combination of vendor-supported solutions as well as the Virginia National Guard, local health district Medical Reserve Corps and volunteer organizations. The following eight CVCs offer walk-in appointments:

  • Portsmouth – Sportsplex
  • Petersburg – Virginia State University
  • Prince William –Gander Mountain
  • Suffolk – Hilton Garden Inn
  • Fairfax (Tysons) – Tysons Corner Mall
  • Virginia Beach –Virginia Beach Convention Center
  • Newport News –13771 Warwick Boulevard in the former Sherwood Shopping Center
  • Hampton – Hampton Coliseum

To schedule an appointment at these or other vaccination sites in Virginia, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682). The call center hours will change on Monday, May 17, to 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays.

At CVCs, adolescents must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian and be accompanied by a parent, guardian or someone acting in the place of a guardian to receive a vaccine. Additionally, sites run by the Virginia Department of Health require the parent or guardian verbally confirm a minor’s date of birth; however, other providers may require additional proof of age.

For more information about COVID-19 in Virginia and the Commonwealth’s ongoing efforts in the pandemic, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.