Where and when can those ages 12 to 15 get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday expanded its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include those ages 12 to 15.
So, what does that mean for vaccine scheduling in this age group?
Vaccine providers in Connecticut say adolescents will be able to get vaccinated as early as Thursday. But those under 18 can't get vaccinated everywhere: Some clinics only offer the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine; both are only authorized for those 18 and older.
Dr. James Cardon, chief clinical integration officer for Hartford HealthCare, said in an email sent Tuesday through a spokesperson that although the FDA has authorized the vaccine for this age group, "there are more steps in the process before it is cleared and we are able to provide vaccinations."
He said advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet Wednesday and are expected to recommend how the vaccine should be used for those ages 12 to 15.
But Cardon said Hartford HealthCare — whose local vaccine sites include Foxwoods — stands ready. The health care system is planning to begin the vaccines Thursday, when parents can bring their kids to any site, no appointment necessary.
Yale New Haven Health, which is also taking walk-ins, is taking appointments now for this age group to be vaccinated Thursday or later. Spokeswoman Fiona Phelan said Yale New Haven Health is mostly getting the Pfizer vaccine, and it will be available Friday and Saturday at the Mitchell College and Mohegan Sun clinics.
Community Health Center President and CEO Mark Masselli said people can go the Vaccine Administration Management System or call 211 now to schedule an appointment for Thursday or later. Locally, CHC is offering vaccines at its 1 Shaw's Cove location in New London.
"It's very exciting for lots of families, so we're working with schools all across the Connecticut, as we did for the high schools," Masselli said. He also said CHC has a new initiative called ABC, focused on amusement parks, beaches and camps.
"This is a critical group, because I think they're also a group of influencers," Masselli said. He added, "I think we're past the point where your baseball star, your hip-hop group, or your favorite actor or actress is going to influence you. We're now at this new level where we need genuine voices."
Jennifer Muggeo has been eagerly awaiting this authorization and gets "quite overwhelmed and emotional" when she thinks about it, as both a mother and deputy director of Ledge Light Health District.
On Tuesday, she called the new Nutmeg Pharmacy location in New London, and scheduled appointments on Saturday morning for her 13-year-old and 12-year-old. (She also has an 11-year-old, who is not yet eligible.)
Nutmeg Pharmacy posted on its Facebook page that its New London location at 345 Broad St. is holding a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinic for those 12 and over on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. People can call the store at (860) 910-4909 to set up an appointment time.
Muggeo said her kids aren't excited about the physical process of getting a shot, "but they are excited about this being a really big step to getting back to normal teenage life."
She also stressed that while the vaccine is new, the mRNA technology was developed more than a decade ago, and robust testing preceded the emergency use authorization.
Ledge Light has two walk-up vaccine clinics scheduled this week — Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Fitch High School in Groton and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the New London Senior Center — but only those over 18 are eligible, as Ledge Light is offering the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
School districts make plans
Groton Superintendent Susan Austin said there will be a second-dose Pfizer clinic at Fitch High School on May 28, and the district is working to also provide another clinic before the end of the school year for anyone else eligible for first shots.
Norwich Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow announced Monday that Norwich Public Schools is partnering with UCFS Healthcare to offer vaccine clinics to middle-school students next week. Any student ages 12 to 15 with a signed parental consent form is eligible.
The first Pfizer dose will be administered at Kelly STEAM Magnet Middle School starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday, and at Teachers Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School starting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Montville Assistant Superintendent Dianne Vumback said Montville is working with UCFS to offer vaccines to students in this age group beginning next week.
UCFS Executive Director Jennifer Granger said the agency is in the midst of holding vaccine clinics at several local high schools, and several school districts are asking for an expansion to middle schools. The new age range spans school levels, as those ages 12 to 15 are generally between seventh and 10th grade.
UCFS has planned a clinic for Friday at Griswold High School. It will also hold a general COVID-19 clinic, no appointment required, for anyone over 12 on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon at 47 Town St. in Norwich, which is the Edward & Mary Lord Family Health Center.
Stonington Superintendent Van Riley said Stonington is working with Nutmeg Pharmacy on a clinic for the 12 to 15 age group as soon as possible.
Day Staff Writer Claire Bessette contributed to this report.
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