COVID-19 Vaccine Generic Pfizer Bottle

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital sets up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Community Center. 

The Virginia Department of Health announced Wednesday that providers across the state can begin vaccinating those aged 12 to 15 following federal approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in adolescents.

The vaccine previously was approved for use in those aged 16 and older, while two other available vaccines are approved for those 18 and older.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved use of the vaccine for the age group Wednesday, accepting the recommendation of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which met earlier in the day to review safety data for the vaccine in this age group.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday amended the vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization to include those aged 12-15.

“Generally, adolescents who contract COVID-19 usually do not develop severe symptoms, but they contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Vaccinating adolescents, along with the rest of Virginia’s eligible population, will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and make our communities safer,” said Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s vaccination coordinator, in a statement. “Getting this safe, effective vaccine means that these adolescents won’t have to miss school, sporting events or other activities if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, taking another step toward getting their lives back to normal.”

In the Pfizer clinical trial with about 2,000 participants aged 12–15, the vaccine was found to be 100 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 occurring at least seven days after the second dose, the VDH reported. It is typical for a new vaccine to be studied in adults first, and then to gradually include younger age groups.

According to the weekly American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) State-Level Data Report, as of May 6, over 3.85 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with 102,682 cumulative cases in children in Virginia. Children represented 14 percent of all cases in the U.S., and 15.5 percent in Virginia.

Administration of the vaccine in adolescents will be the same as in adults: given in two doses, separated by 21 days. Adolescents are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the second dose. Side effects in this age group included pain or redness in the arm where the vaccine is given, fatigue, fever and muscle aches.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only one approved for use in those under 18 years of age, so parents and guardians should ensure that vaccine is offered before scheduling an appointment or attending a walk-in clinic. To schedule an appointment, adolescents and their parents or guardians can:

  • Go to virginia.gov, and search for locations offering Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682)
  • Speak with their primary care provider

In most cases, 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.

In a school setting, written consent is required, but a parent or guardian is not required to be present. It is recommended that you check with the facility that is offering the vaccination about consent and who needs to accompany the adolescent. 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.

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