HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – As of Sunday, all Virginians aged 16 and older are able to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
Gov. Ralph Northam set the goal for the expanded eligibly earlier this month. Virginia’s goal is ahead of the nationwide goal by one day.
The move to Phase 2 comes as the Commonwealth surpasses 5 million doses administered, which means nearly half of the population has received at least one shot.
Many 16-year-olds, including Cai Luzak and Logan Goffigan already got their first dose.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Luzak said. “There’s a little soreness in the arm. The shot didn’t hurt as much as I thought.”
Goffigan came from Virginia Beach to get the vaccine at Military Circle Mall.
“It was easy,” she said. “It feels like a flu shot to me.”
A handful of cities in Hampton Roads, including Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, opened up COVID vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older a couple weeks ago.
Now, the entire state is following suit.
“Just because everybody is now eligible doesn’t mean you’re going to necessarily get vaccinated tomorrow,” said Dr. Danny Avula who heads the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program. “It may not even mean that you’re able to find an appointment in the next few days.”
Dr. Avula said anyone who wants a shot will have a chance to get one by the end of May as more community vaccination clinics come into neighborhoods and more doses are divvied up to doctor’s offices.
As of Sunday, April 18, approximately 9,721 teens between 16 and 19 years old in Hampton Roads got at least one dose of the vaccine.
Currently, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16 and 17-year olds.
Dr. Avula said there should be enough supply of Pfizer to go around.
“So far, we have not seen that to be a huge concern,” he said. “There is enough Pfizer and Moderna for demand in most parts of the state.”
Dr. Avula said both Pfizer and Moderna could get FDA approval to give the vaccine to kids as young as 12 by late May or early June.
Meantime, he said more doses are on the way with about 15,000 coming this week, five times the amount from the previous week.
The J&J shot is now on pause around the country after the CDC said several people developed blood clots.
“Then if the Johnson & Johnson does get approved toward the end of the week, then I think we’ll see a flood of vaccine coming in, probably over 100,000 doses for the following week.”
Just like any other vaccination for people under 18, minors need permission from a parent to get the shot. The parent of the child will also need to go to the appointment with them.
Virginians who want a vaccination can schedule an appointment here or call 877-VAX-IN-VA.