NORFOLK, Va. – Cai Luzak, 16, was eager to get his COVID-19 shot. He registered on site Friday at the FEMA-supported Community Vaccination Center at Military Circle Mall.
“I came here with my dad,” the Virginia Beach resident said. “I did not know I needed a parent with me. I found that out when I got here, so it’s a good thing he did come.”
Several cities in Hampton Roads, including Norfolk and Virginia Beach, opened up vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older. Gov. Northam has said all Virginians ages 16 and older will eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment by April 18.
Just like any other vaccination for kids under 18, minors need permission from a parent. Tim Smith, the FEMA Site Manager for the Military Circle Mall Vaccination Center, said the parent also needs to attend the COVID appointment with their child.
“We want the parent to be here to make sure that there’s that consent from the parent for the minor child,” Smith said.
Currently, only Pfizer is approved for 16- and 17-year-olds, though Moderna and Johnson & Johnson could soon follow suit.
While options for the shot may be limited, supply is not. Smith said the FEMA-led site has its own vaccine allocation separate from the state’s.
“We have plenty of vaccine,” he said. “We actually over-schedule our vaccines because of the no-show rate, but if everybody shows up - even the over-scheduled - we have plenty of vaccine.”
As COVID-19 cases among the young and unvaccinated grow, Smith said there’s no better time for a shot.
“A lot of colleges are mandating that now,” he said. “Now’s a good time to get vaccinated, so when it comes time to go back to school there won’t be any barriers.”
For Luzak and others, they know rolling up their sleeve is key to slowing the spread.
“This pandemic, I think, has been a source of anxiety for a lot of people, so I think having the vaccine is going to be an extra layer of security,” Luzak said.
Sixteen-year-old Logan Goffigan agreed.
“It was easy,” said the Virginia Beach resident. “It feels like a flu shot to me - just get out and get the shot.”
This Military Circle Mall site is averaging 2,000-3,000 shots in arms a day. FEMA plans on running the clinic through May 23 and encourages anyone who wants a shot to get one. The clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
To preregister for the shot, head to vaccinate.virginia.gov, or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682).