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Hampton Roads gears up to vaccinate children 12 and older against COVID-19

Thursday was the first day 12 to 15-year-olds could get a vaccine in Va. Hampton Roads distributors have been gearing up to protect kids from the disease for days.

HAMPTON, Va. — Thursday was the first day Virginia children between the ages of 12 and 15 could get a COVID-19 vaccine, after waiting on clearance from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, Hampton Roads distributors have been gearing up to protect kids from the new disease for days.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which comes in two doses, is the only one cleared for children so far. It's been authorized by the FDA and recommended by the CDC.

A Tuesday morning release from James City County looked forward to the possible CDC green light, which went out Wednesday.

"We are encouraged by the FDA’s action and its support of the vaccine’s use in those 12 and older," wrote a county spokesperson. "Virginia already has begun planning for the expansion of vaccine availability to this age group, including having discussions with local health districts, school systems, pediatricians and other physicians, and our pharmacy partners."

The Virginia Department of Health announced that its state-run vaccine clinics would start doling out doses to children between the ages of 12 and 15 starting on Friday.

Anyone under the age of 18 who wants to be vaccinated needs the consent of a parent or guardian, and a parent or guardian has to be with them at the clinic to get the shot.

Here's a list of the state-run clinics people can go to in Hampton Roads:

  • Portsmouth – Sportsplex
  • Suffolk – Hilton Garden Inn
  • Virginia Beach – Virginia Beach Convention Center
  • Newport News –13771 Warwick Boulevard, former Sherwood Shopping Center
  • Hampton – Hampton Coliseum 

Hampton City Schools is planning on offering student vaccine clinics at some school buildings in the coming days.

"Vaccines will be given in select school buildings based on student interest and ease of access for families," wrote spokesperson Kellie Goral. "Receiving the vaccine would be voluntary and would require parental consent."

During a telehealth briefing Thursday morning, Virginia vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said vaccinating young people is the key to getting through the pandemic. 

"It's more possible for those young people to spread COVID-19," said Avula. "We've seen young people really driving spread in communities."

Tim Smith, a site coordinator at FEMA's vaccination site at Military Circle Mall site in Norfolk said they had a long line of young people eager to get vaccinated Thursday morning.

"They’re our future, and they're already making impactful decisions that are gonna affect not only our country, but the world," said Smith. "We’ve been having parents come through in the past couple of weeks since the authorization was pending, and they knew it was coming, so they wanted to bring their children out. They see this as a path to recovery."

Autumn Hatcher, a 14-year-old from Norfolk showed up at the site to get vaccinated with her grandmother. 

"It helps protect the people around us, and helps the kids who can’t get it," said Hatcher.

Matthew Prince, a 17-year-old from Norfolk, also got the vaccine. 

"I saw all my friends getting it and I thought it was about time. So, my mom and I decided to come out here today and get it," said Prince.

If you have a student in HCS and would like to get a vaccine at a school clinic, the school system asks that you fill out this online survey before May 17.

Rite Aid also confirmed that parents can make appointments at its pharmacies for children 12 and older to get the Pfizer vaccine.

Anyone fully vaccinated, including children, is not required to quarantine if they come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. 

The company is opening its door to partnerships with schools, churches, and organizations to create on-site vaccine clinics for people aged 12 and up.