HARTFORD, Conn. — State health officials are preparing their plans to roll out COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 – including putting in an order for more than 145,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. This rollout is pending a decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is expected sometime next week.
Of those doses purchased, more than 48,000 will be sent to pharmacies across the state. Nearly 97,000 doses will be allocated to the state for distribution to pediatrician offices.
"We’ve got over 90% of our adults vaccinated. I’d like to see over 90% of our kids vaccinated," said Gov. Ned Lamont.
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel endorsed kid-size doses of Pfizer shots for 5- to 11-year-olds on Tuesday. They said the vaccine’s benefits in preventing COVID-19 in that age group outweigh any potential risks.
Given that there are about 283,000 children ages 5 to 11 in the state, the initial dose allocations alone cover about 50% of the eligible population.
However, Lamont told FOX61 News he isn’t considering mandating the vaccine to attend school.
"It’s still emergency use. We are going to encourage kids to get vaccinated,” he said. “They can only get vaccinated with the permission of a parent and no thoughts about making it a mandate."
In fact, the governor said if enough kids get vaccinated, he would at least consider changing the rules on masks.
"At some point, you might offer that up to different school districts. I don’t think we are there yet,” Lamont added.
This is the state’s plan
The Connecticut Department of Public Health laid out its timeline on Tuesday, saying that if all recommendations and approvals go through smoothly, the state will begin to administer COVID-19 vaccines to children older than 5 years old on Thursday, Nov. 4.
"Whether it’s a school-based health clinic or providing one of our DPH vans to be there either during the school day or to provide something at pickup time so that if a parent wants to be their when their child gets a shot for their kid,” DPH Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani said. “These are all the things they are working on."
Parents will have options for where their children can receive the vaccine.
According to the state:
Pediatricians: Hundreds of pediatricians will be administering COVID-19 vaccines across the State of Connecticut. However, not all pediatricians will have the COVID-19 vaccine, so if your child’s provider doesn’t offer the COVID-19 vaccine, please refer to one of the other options provided.
Pharmacies: There will be hundreds of pharmacy locations that are offering the COVID-19 vaccine to children, including many CVS, Walgreens, RiteAid, and other pharmacy chains across the state as well as independent pharmacies. Pharmacies provide a safe, convenient, and easy location to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Pharmacies have rolled out special training for their pharmacist staff to provide vaccines for younger children.
School-based clinics: The Department of Public Health and the Connecticut State Department of Education are collaborating to offer on-site clinics at schools across the State of Connecticut. These will either be led by school-based health centers or special mobile teams that are specifically trained to offer vaccines for younger children. Information about such clinics will be provided by schools or districts directly.
Other locations: In addition to the above, several health systems and local health departments will be offering COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5–11.
What doctors and parents are saying
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids is the same mRNA formulation as the vaccine for older kids and adults. It’s also still two doses. However, unlike their vaccine for older kids and adults, it is only 1/3 the strength and is only authorized for emergency use.
Dr. Evelyne Sousa, of Starling Physicians in New Britain, told FOX61 that they have been approved to receive 900 doses.
“It’s pretty significant and we’re pretty excited about that,” she said, adding: “With the trials for the vaccine, we know they are safe.”
Meanwhile, Carlos Santiago told FOX61 News he plans to get his son vaccinated even though he himself has not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine yet.
"Just because of future college and high school,” Santiago said. “He does play sports so he’s always around other kids."
Go to ct.gov/covidvaccine to search for a location near you to find a vaccine for your child.
Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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