Hundreds of Darien children sign up for first COVID vaccine clinics for their age group

DARIEN — Like most children, Lara Port’s youngsters are not typically thrilled to receive a shot.

But when their mother took them to get vaccinated in Stamford recently, “they were really excited to feel some other measure of protection,” Port said.

Now, hundreds of Darien children ages 5 through 11 will be able to get their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a pediatric vaccination clinic at Darien Town Hall on Nov. 20.

Some 300 children ages 5-11 had signed up for a first clinic last weekend, according to schools Superintendent Alan Addley. Another 300 children have been signed up for the Nov. 20 clinic.

Port, who has three kids, two in Darien elementary schools, said she had no hesitation about giving her children the vaccine. Wanting them to be vaccinated as soon as possible, she pounced on an opening at a clinic at Scalzi Park in Stamford over the weekend.

Her 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son now have the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“I trust that the (vetting) process has been done appropriately,” Port said. “I have friends who are pediatricians and infectious disease doctors who were first in line to get their kids vaccinated. I'm not a scientist, but they are and I trust that they understand the science and are making the most informed decision that they can.”

On Oct. 29, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The vaccine was found to be 90.7 percent effective in preventing the coronavirus, according to Pfizer and BioNTech data.

Across Darien schools, Addley said vaccination appointments were in high demand. All 600 slots were filled within 30 minutes after the school sent out appointment links to parents last week.

The town previously said it had ordered 900 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, with more to come if demand continues.

Addley said the district will try working with the health department to see if they can secure more doses. But vaccines will also be readily available in nearby cities like Stamford and Norwalk, Addley said.

Meanwhile, around 220 unvaccinated students at the five elementary schools and one middle school have been participating in weekly COVID-19 testing, which takes place during school hours, Addley said. That number has resulted in “minimal” positive COVID-19 cases— only around two or three, Addley said.

Port said her son, who is a third-grader at Tokeneke Elementary, has not been in a classroom without some sort of COVID-19 precautions since he was in kindergarten.

Her kids hope that if they and their classmates get vaccinated, schools can get back to some sort of normalcy, Port said.

“It would be great for (my son) to not feel this level of anxiety, because he is worried that he's going to get sick,” Port said. “And so he could be able to have conversations with his friends without masks on.”