A worker with UVA Health moves doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into ultra-cold storage. (Courtesy of UVA Health)

Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia's vaccine coordinator, said the state's health districts and pharmacies will be ready to roll out third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as soon as September.

"The planning assumption we're going to be working with will be eight months after your second dose," Avula said during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The majority of fully-vaccinated Virginia adults would be eligible for the third dose in late December, Avula said. Health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities would be the first eligible for the boosters as soon as late September. But the rush to get vaccinated seen this spring likely won't be repeated.

"The sense of urgency or emergency is very different than it was," Avula said. "The vaccines have a slowing waning of effectiveness. I want Virginians to recognize they will still have a very high degree of protection from severe consequences."

He also said supply won't be a problem as it was when the vaccines were first introduced late last year. Virginia has more than 1 million vaccines stored now, with access to more than 2 million more, Avula said.

"The federal government has very much reassured us that supply is not an issue," he said.

Though the White House has recommended the booster vaccines, Avula said the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have to give final approval after studying the safety of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will have to wait even longer.

According to the CDC, there is not enough information to recommend an additional vaccine dose for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Studies are being conducted to evaluate the protection provided by the vaccine.

Third Pfizer and Moderna shots are already underway across Virginia for those with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. For those patients, the third dose is meant to provide an extra boost of protection now, while for the general population the third doses will be given as the vaccine effectiveness starts to wane, Avula said.

But he was quick to point out that the vaccine, even months later, still provides "very high" protection against hospitalization and death due COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

“We really need people who have not yet been vaccinated to get there," Avula said.

Kari Pugh is digital editor at Reach her at

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