The COVID-19 vaccine recently approved for children as young as 6 months is on order and should be available in doctors’ office and at health departments shortly, local health officials said Tuesday.

The Lord Fairfax Health District expects to receive it soon, acting Health Director Dr. Charles Devine III said Tuesday. The health district covers Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren.

Valley Health System, which plans to distribute the vaccine to area pediatric offices, was also waiting for the vaccine as of Tuesday.

Young children were the last major age group ineligible for vaccines, but on Saturday the vaccine for young children was unanimously recommended by members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent panel of experts.

The vaccine is available in a three-dose series by Pfizer-BioNTech, with the first two doses administered three weeks apart and a third dose at least two months after the second dose, and a two-dose series by Moderna administered four weeks apart.

Having this vaccine available is a huge benefit to the community, said Dr. Jeffrey Feit, vice president for Valley Health and community health officer. Valley Health will make an announcement when the vaccines come in.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen vaccines have an enormous impact on the COVID pandemic, reducing both the frequency and severity of COVID cases and saving countless lives,” Feit said Tuesday. “In addition, the vaccines have been incredibly safe, adding to the success of these efforts. We’re grateful that our youngest children will now have access to these vaccines and that the FDA has taken special efforts to ensure their safety and effectiveness in this group.”

The CDC’s independent panel of experts, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, recommended the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 6 months through 4 years and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months through 5 years, a press release from the Virginia Department of Health says.

Local health department locations will offer the new vaccine on a walk-in basis, Devine said, as they do with the COVID vaccines for everyone else.

Parents who don’t want to bring their small children into the building can call when they arrive at the building and health department employees will come out to them, register them and administer the vaccine in their vehicle, he said.

“If demand warrants, we will also schedule specific clinics and/or set up and run vaccination sites as was done earlier in the pandemic,” Devine said in a Tuesday email.

Families can also get the vaccine for their children at pediatric offices, family practice offices, federally qualified health centers and retail pharmacies (for ages 3 and older).

“Providers may choose which vaccine to offer,” Devine cautioned, “so parents should contact their pediatrician or other health care provider for specific information on the vaccines available in their offices.”

Vaccines and boosters are still recommended for all ages, the VDH release says.

“Those who are unvaccinated and without a booster remain at the highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19,” Devine said.

“This population remains VDH’s top priority. Everyone 6 months or older is recommended to be vaccinated.”

To find free vaccination opportunities nearby, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1).

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com

(1) comment

Darrin Gifft

Anyone who would give their child this vaccine must be crazy, it doesn’t even work.

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