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COVID-19 vaccines now available to kids under 5 in Fairfax County

Fairfax County nurse holds a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Roughly 18 months after COVID-19 vaccines first rolled out to Fairfax County, toddlers and infants can finally get in on the action.

As of noon today (Tuesday), vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer are available for kids under 5 at the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway) and South County Hyland Center (8350 Richmond Highway), no appointment necessary, the Fairfax County Health Department announced.

The long-awaited vaccines were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday (June 17) and got the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s support a day later.

The recommendation expanded eligibility for vaccination to about 68,984 kids in the Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, the county health department told FFXnow last week.

“This is an important milestone in the pandemic as it is the first time that everyone in our community, ages 6 months and older, is eligible to be protected with life-saving vaccines,” Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu said in a statement. “Vaccinating babies, toddlers and young children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19.”

The new pediatric vaccines are administered in smaller doses than those given to adults.

Targeted at kids under 5, the Pfizer vaccine is about a tenth of an adult dose and requires three shots, with the second coming three to eight weeks after the first one and a two-month gap before the third shot. The Moderna vaccine is for kids under 6, about a quarter the size of an adult dose, and only needs two shots delivered four to eight weeks apart.

In addition to the county health department sites, the vaccines may be available from private pediatricians and medical providers as well as retail pharmacies, though state law prohibits the latter from administering shots to people younger than 3.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases over the past 26 weeks, as of June 21, 2022 (via VDH)

Vaccine Finder doesn’t list any sites in Northern Virginia with the new vaccines, but Walgreens announced on Saturday (June 18) that it will have vaccines for kids 3 and older at select locations around the country. The company encourages parents and guardians to make appointments in advance.

CVS says the Pfizer vaccine is available for kids 18 months and older at all of its more than 1,100 Minute Clinic locations in the U.S.

“Parents and guardians are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment online at CVS.com, MinuteClinic.com or through the CVS Pharmacy App to ensure availability of the appropriate vaccine,” a CVS spokesperson told FFXnow by email. “The scheduling tool will only display appointments at CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic locations that have the correct vaccine once the patient’s age is provided.”

Giant and Safeway don’t seem to have the new vaccines yet, and Harris Teeter’s scheduler says a vaccine for the youngest age group isn’t available in the area.

The Virginia Department of Health now recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against COVID-19, stating that those who aren’t vaccinated “remain at the highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization.”

“We urge parents to consult with their child’s healthcare provider about vaccination,” State Vaccination Coordinator Christy Gray said in a statement. “VDH is excited that parents have this opportunity and are empowered to protect their youngest children against this virus.”

In the Fairfax Health District, 996,603 residents — 84.2% of the population — have received at least one vaccine dose, including:

  • 92.9% of people 18 and older
  • 98.9% of 16-17 year olds
  • 94.9% of 12-15 year olds
  • 60.7% of 5-11 year olds

County health department data indicates that 908,248 residents, or 76.7%, are fully vaccinated, including 84.9% of adults. That means they’ve gotten two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

All Fairfax Health District COVID-19 cases, as of June 21, 2022 (via VDH)

COVID-19 cases have been on a downward trend in the Fairfax Health District since peaking for this spring at an average of 601 on May 25, but with 548 new cases reported today, the weekly average jumped from 378.1 on Sunday (June 19) to 398 cases, according to VDH data.

The district’s testing positivity rate has declined from 18.8% on May 31 — a high for this spring and summer — to 16.2%, as of June 17.

With 251.8 cases per 100,000 residents, Fairfax County is still seeing a medium level of COVID-19 in the community, according to the CDC.

Based on data through June 15, hospital admissions ticked up 49.5% from the preceding seven days with 85 new Covid patients, and 4.3% of staffed, inpatient beds were being used by people with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

The Fairfax Health District has recorded a total of 211,393 cases, 4,610 hospitalizations and 1,524 deaths during the pandemic.

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