Darien parents torn over vaccinating teens against COVID-19

DARIEN — As vaccine opportunities open up for those 16 and over, many Darien parents have voiced support for their children getting vaccinated. Some, however, still express doubt over possible long-term effects.

Darien resident Genie Ball, a cardiothoracic surgery physician assistant at Stamford Hospital, said she has seen enough to make up her mind.

“I spent months treating COVID patients in the ICU. The devastation still haunts me daily. This vaccine is monumental and we should be celebrating such a feat of science,” Ball said. “... All of the adults in my family are now vaccinated and as soon as my 6-year-old daughters are eligible (meaning the vaccine has been tested and approved from the FDA) we will sign up immediately.”

A year ago, Darien’s Kristina Gregory talked about her “agonizing” bout with COVID-19, one of the earliest public ordeals in the state.

Gregory urged the community at the time to take it seriously and use precautions. Gregory said her battle with COVID-19 and its lingering effects — even as she marked the year anniversary of her first symptoms — make her fully supportive of having her two sons vaccinated, though her oldest is still a year away.

“I am OK with it. I think it should be an age and weight combination for kids, but I am board for vaccination,” Gregory said.

Arpita Muchhal said she’s “significantly more concerned about (her children) getting COVID-19 and us figuring out in five or 10 or 15 years the irreversible damage on organs due to micro clots than I am of the mRNA vaccine.”

She said her 18 year old will be signed up at soon as she can do so, while her 13-year-old daughter has other health considerations but “frankly cannot wait to get her vaccinated as well.”

Darien resident Rebecca Martorella said she wanted to get her children vaccinated for “the world to be as open to us as possible so we can visit family, travel and attend events without ongoing worry about being exposed to this invisible enemy.”

“I’m more concerned about getting and transmitting the virus than issues with a vaccine that has been developed and approved by scientists,” she said.

On Wednesday, Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12.

Some parents, however, expressed on social media that they were not comfortable with the vaccine for themselves or their children.

Sue Gabriele said she is not an “anti-vaxxer” and her son, 20, has had his child vaccinations, but said she feels the long-term effects of the COVID vaccine, specifically related to fertility, have not yet been studied, so she advised her son not to take it.

According the the Center for Disease Control, “there is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems.”

“If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Like all vaccines, scientists are studying COVID-19 vaccines carefully for side effects now and will report findings as they become available,” the CDC reports.

Yale New Haven Health has also said data reported to the FDA for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines show the same numbers of people got pregnant in the vaccine group as the placebo group.

“Among the 36 people who got pregnant in both studies to date, there were only four adverse pregnancy outcomes, and those participants were in the placebo group and did not receive the actual vaccine,” according to the Yale New Haven Health website.

Darien resident Angela Castellano said she will “never get my girls vaccinated against COVID (nor will I),” adding, “I am not an anti-vaxxer.”

Information on Darien’s COVID-19 resources can be found at DarienCT.gov. Information on signing up for a vaccine appointment can be found at vams.cdc.gov/.