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Vaccine for adolescents needs additional approval

Though the Food and Drug Administration has approved the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 12 to 15, additional federal approval is needed before it can be administered for that age group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices must also discuss the FDA’s action and make a recommendation to approve the vaccine.

Dr. Danny Avula, state vaccine coordinator, said Virginia would not offer the vaccine to children aged 12 to 15 until the CDC approves it.

“We are encouraged by the FDA’s action and its support of the vaccine’s use in those 12 and older,” Avula said in a statement. “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 state has administered more than 6.8 million doses, as of data posted May 11 to the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. More than 47% of the state’s population has been vaccinated with at least one dose, and more than 3 million residents — 35.5% — have been fully vaccinated.

Statewide, 150,881 people ages 16 to 19 have been vaccinated with at least one dose. In Suffolk, 1,076 people in this age group have received at least one dose, and 531 have been fully vaccinated.

In Isle of Wight County, 465 people ages 16 to 19 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 231 people being fully vaccinated. In Surry County, 37 people in that age group have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 13 have been fully vaccinated.

Among Southampton County residents ages 16 to 19, 83 have received at least one dose, and 39 have been fully vaccinated. In Franklin, 53 people in this age group have received at least one dose, and 27 have been fully vaccinated.

Avula said the state health department has been in touch with superintendents around the state about setting up vaccination clinics at schools during the last three weeks of the school year. Anyone under 18 getting a vaccine would need to have a parent or guardian present.

The Moderna vaccine is expected to receive similar emergency use authorization for ages 12 to 15 in roughly two to three weeks, Avula said.