FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 5, 2022
Melissa Gordon, Vaccinate Virginia Spokesperson, email@example.com
Statement from State Vaccination Coordinator Christy Gray on CDC Endorsement of Strengthened Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Booster Dose Recommendations for 12–17 Year Olds, All Pfizer Boosters After Five Months and Third Doses for Immunocompromised 5–11 Year Olds
(RICHMOND, Va.) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is immediately adopting the following recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- that individuals ages 12–17 years should get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine booster dose five months after finishing their two-dose primary series;
- that all individuals ages 18 years and older should get any COVID-19 Vaccine booster dose five months, rather than six months, after finishing their two-dose primary series of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine; and
- that 5–11-year-old vaccine recipients who are moderately or severely immunocompromised be eligible to receive a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 28 days after the second dose.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine that has been authorized for use in children and adolescents, ages 5 years and older, and the only vaccine with a booster interval of five months after completion of the initial two-dose series. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen are authorized only for persons 18 years of age and older; the booster dose interval for Moderna remains unchanged at six months after the completion of the initial two-dose series while J&J remains unchanged at two months after completion of the initial one-dose series.
The following is a statement from State Vaccination Coordinator Christy Gray, M.P.H., director of the Division of Immunization in the VDH Office of Epidemiology:
“Once again, the CDC and VDH are following the science. Research shows that boosters for the population ages 12 and older are safe and effective and provide additional protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death, especially as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly. Research also shows immunocompromised 5–11-year-old children benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and that the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness increases if a booster is received after five months. While COVID-19 illness in children and adolescents is usually milder than in adults, children can and do become seriously ill. Vaccination is our best way to halt the spread of the virus, and we urge parents to take advantage of these opportunities to vaccinate their children and to protect them and the greater community from COVID-19.”
Those who are unvaccinated remain at the highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19. This population remains VDH’s top priority. Everyone 5 years or older is eligible to be vaccinated. To find free vaccines at a Community Vaccination Center or another location near you, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages. At Community Vaccination Centers, appointments are strongly encouraged to ensure you get the vaccine you want and to avoid extended wait times, but walk-ins are welcome.