VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Within hours of CDC approval of a COVID-19 vaccine booster for elementary-aged kids, the Virginia Department of Health and a local church made shots available for families in Virginia Beach.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending an extra dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old. An advisory panel approved the decision Thursday, following an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration earlier in the week.
“I was definitely hoping for them to get the vaccine," said grandparent Evan Brockington.
Brockington and his wife, Serene, are grandparents of young children, and they’re glad to hear their grandkids are eligible for a booster.
On Friday, the Brockington's and church members of The Mount Virginia Beach partnered with the VDH and Mercy Chefs for a food giveaway and vaccination clinic.
“The boosters are now available for children. So, we felt like it was the perfect time to be able to have this event to see to it that we do our part to make sure everybody is vaccinated,” said pastor Terron Rodgers.
“We believe that it is important and we want to lead by example," said Tasha Rodgers. She also described the community surrounding the church as a "food desert," which motivated them to partner with the food bank to provide help for families.
More than 20 people received COVID-19 vaccines at the church on Friday.
The CDC said elementary-aged kids can take the booster five months after getting their first two doses, or “fully vaccinated,’ and so far, they are only recommending the Pfizer vaccine for this age group.
To test for safety, CDC doctors studied roughly 400 children who received a booster shot at least five months after their second dose. The most commonly reported side effects were pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, chill and fever, according to an FDA release.
The CDC and FDA said they believe the extra dose will boost protection for kids, as COVID cases rise nationwide.
“Parents want to know, 'Should we do this?'” said Dr. Kathy Koehl, of Riverside Health System.
Koehl, the healthcare system's director of clinical pharmacy services, is also a parent of a child in this age group.
She advises parents to consider several questions, including:
- Is the number of cases in your community increasing?
- Are there any outbreaks at your child’s school?
- Does your child have medical conditions that make him or her more at risk if they catch COVID?
“Then, most importantly, this is a great opportunity to engage your child’s trusted health care provider and make a plan that’s individual to your child and right for your family," she said.
Children under 5 years old in the United States are not yet eligible for COVID shots. Meanwhile, everyone 12 and older are eligible for at least one booster dose, while people 50 and older can receive a second booster.