The Virginia Department of Health is immediately adopting the following recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention including:

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.

“Once again, the CDC and VDH are following the science,” said state vaccination coordinator Christy Gray. “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.”