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Virginia Beach Public Health talks plans for third dose, vaccines for children as it awaits full FDA approval

Virginia Beach Public Health says it is waiting for full approval for the third vaccine dose after the FDA advisory panel recommended it for people 65 or older.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach's Department of Public Health says it is seeing more people come in to the clinics to get vaccinated, especially those who are immunocompromised and looking to get their third dose.

Dozens of people showed up to Kingdom Cathedral church in Virginia Beach Saturday morning for a pop-up clinic to get their first, second, or third vaccine dose. The department's Emergency Coordinator, Bob Engle, says the pop-up clinics may see fewer people signing up, but they are seeing many come to the Military Circle Mall clinic.

"These smaller clinics are to help reach parts of the community who can't otherwise travel to Military Circle Mall," said Engle. "Last week at Military Circle Mall, we did about 350 vaccinations and actually almost 50 of them for third dose administration." 

The FDA's advisory panel voted Friday evening to recommend approval for people 65 and older to get a third dose of the vaccine, but state and city health departments still need to wait for full approval by the FDA and the CDC. 

Engle says his team is ready to take on this next move.

"We've been making preparations for the past couple weeks for this third dose. We've actually increased our days at Military Circle. And also, we're ready to expand the hours on those days when the demand starts to increase," he said. 

Engle says he expects the third dose to receive approval, but it's just a matter of when it will be approved. From there, they will receive guidance from the Virginia Department of Health. 

In addition to ramping up vaccine doses for older residents, Engle says the department is also preparing for the expected vaccine approval for children ages 5 to 11.

Engle says the health department is working closely with school division leaders to make sure they have a plan in place when this next step comes to fruition. He says they have a plan to host clinics at the schools, especially in the evenings during after-school hours. 

Children ages 5 to 11 have not yet been approved for the COVID-19 vaccine. People ages 12 years and older are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, but people between the ages 12 and 17 must have a guardian present to get vaccinated.

The Virginia Beach Department of Public Health is hosting more clinics with churches and community centers during September. Here are the next few happening in the region:

  • Monday September 20 at Atlantis Community Center 
    • 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday September 22 at New Light Baptist Church 
    • 4:30 p.m.- 6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday September 23, at More Than Conquerors Church
    • 4:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m.