State vaccination coordinator discusses booster shot rollout for the Commonwealth

Posted at 9:16 PM, Aug 19, 2021

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.- The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) confirmed Thursday more than 2,700 new COVID-19 cases, with more than 1,200 people being treated for the virus in hospitals across the Commonwealth.

High school students and siblings Brinson and Bianca Powell headed in to get their first COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at the Military Circle Mall clinic in Norfolk.

"I want to go back to school, and with the vaccine, it is safe for me to go and not bring anything back home," said Bianca Powell.

The Powells were two of dozens of people lining up to get their first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

"I am not going to take any more chances and get the shot," said Jessie Jordan.

Most of the people in line will likely all end up back at the clinic in about eight months, says state vaccination coordinator Dr. Danny Avula.

"Data is showing over time you have a lessened protective effect with the vaccines, and with the Delta variant in general, it is showing some decrease," said Avula.

Avula says trends are emerging from data that shows waning immunity, and just as U.S. health officials announced Wednesday, Avula echoes Virginians will soon need to get a COVID-19 booster shot to shore up their protection.

"September 20 is a date we are planning for and a target to shoot for but contingent upon FDA approval," Avula said.

Avula saysthose who are immunocompromised now can get a Pfizer or Moderna booster shotand says clinics should be simply taking people for their word. Everyone else, he says, must wait eight months from their second dose to get the booster.

Avula estimates around 350,000 Virginians would be eligible in December for the booster shot but says your sense of urgency shouldn't be as high as getting the initial dose.

Related: Who can get a 3rd COVID-19 vaccine dose and how?

"Your protection doesn't just drop off overnight; it slowly wanes in effectiveness, and it's OK if you wait some time after the eight month mark," said Avula.

If you received the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine, health officials say you too will likely need a booster, but the FDA is still studying data for when those booster vaccines will be recommended.

Click here for our full COVID-19 vaccination guide.