RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula is helping make sense of the latest COVID-19 booster news and questions about the pediatric vaccine.
For starters, Doctor Avula says the first dose of the COVID vaccine could be in the arms of children by Thanksgiving. He said the state is already prepping for the pediatric vaccine rollout.
“We are absolutely preparing for that right now, this week,” Avula said.
He told 8News the state is not wasting any time in its plan to administer the COIVD-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.
“We are ensuring that that vaccine is making its way into Virginia. It is being distributed to pediatricians and family practice docs all over the state,” Avula said.
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to make a recommendation on the pediatric Pfizer vaccine Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control plan to review the vaccine for kids the first week of November. Unlike the mass vaccination centers, we saw with the adult rollout, local pediatricians take priority in this distribution process.
“We know that most kids and their families are most comfortable getting their vaccines at either their pediatrician’s office or at a pharmacy,” Avula said.
As for the adults, all three vaccine types are now approved for boosters.
Both the FDA and CDC say it’s ok to mix and match your shots. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study has shown Moderna and Pfizer may spark a better immune response than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Dr. Avula said more clarity may still be needed on which vaccine produce the best immune response but he that mixing and matching won’t hurt you.
“We certainly know now there’s no negative effect,” he said.
To be eligible for the Pfizer or Moderna booster, you need to be 65 and older or 18 and over with an underlying condition or 18 and older working in a high-risk profession. The CDC has a list here of those professions. Although Avula said when you go to get your booster shot you don’t need to bring proof of employment.
“You just need to self-attest to, ‘yes my occupation puts me at higher risk,’” he said.
In the meantime, adults who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine two months ago or more can make an appointment for any type of booster right now through a pharmacy or by searching the state’s clinic website.