VDH prepares to vaccinate children 12-15 years of age

Starting Friday, the Virginia Department of Health will begin administering Pfizer shots to those 12 years and older.

RICHMOND, Va. – CDC leadership along with other government officials updated COVID-19 prevention measures Thursday including vaccine eligibility and mask guidance.

Following those announcements, the Virginia Department of Health released a statement saying they will begin vaccinating children 12-15 with the Pfizer vaccine Friday. Governor Ralph Northam says his team will review the state mask mandates to abide by the new CDC guidance.

“Going to pharmacies, going to providers who carry the vaccine, going to health department clinics -- and then there has been a lot of work in the last few weeks in anticipation of this to really connect with local schools,” explained Virginia’s vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula when discussing where this “new group” of eligible vaccine recipients can find their shot.

Many school systems in the Roanoke Valley have held vaccine clinics for interested students 16+. Thursday, Lord Botetourt High School Senior Arin Sparks got his first shot.

“It’s right where all of us are. All of us are at school or near school, so it’s definitely very convenient to have it right here,” said Sparks.

With the school year ending and a second dose required, the advice from many health leaders is to find the shot at an area pharmacy or through your primary care physician.

Many people have questioned whether students will be required to get the vaccine by next school year.

“I believe the governor said recently that’s under the authority of the General Assembly. So, obviously, we’re going to operate until such time until there is a change as if it is not required,” answered Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane.

Most local health districts, like Roanoke City & Allegheny, Mount Rogers and West Piedmont, have been holding clinics at schools already. Their plans moving forward aren’t finalized.

The Pittsylvania/Danville Health district says they’re considering a mass clinic for this group, but it’s not confirmed.

Central Health District begins tomorrow.

Carilion Clinic sent WSLS 10 News this statement:

“Following Virginia Department of Health guidance, Carilion Clinic is finalizing plans for vaccine offerings for patients 12 and older. More information will be available in the coming days.

In the meantime, the public is encouraged to continue to use Vaccines.gov to find a COVID-19 vaccine near them.”

“Getting our students vaccinated like we got our teachers vaccinated is an important step to getting back to the 5-days a week, everyday open school situation that we all know will happen in the fall of this year,” said Dr. Lane.

Approving the vaccine for those younger than 12, Dr. Avula says, will take some time because vaccine dosing will need to be altered.

He doesn’t expect an update on this group until the fall.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.