CT likely to start vaccinating youths 12 to 15 Thursday

Photo of Ken Dixon
A health worker shows a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 at the Pascual Guerrero Olympic stadium, in Cali, Colombia, on April 26, 2021. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP) (Photo by LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images)

A health worker shows a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 at the Pascual Guerrero Olympic stadium, in Cali, Colombia, on April 26, 2021. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP) (Photo by LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images)

LUIS ROBAYO / AFP via Getty Images

Connecticut health providers are preparing to inoculate 12- to-15 year-olds for COVID-19 this week, immediately after final authorization of the Pfizer vaccine by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which declared it safe for that age group late Monday.

An FDA committee is expected to give final authorization Wednesday and providers in Connecticut would not delay in administering the inoculations.

Gov. Lamont said Monday that school officials will roll out notifications to parents when the vaccines will be available.

“The vaccines are working,” Lamont said, adding that 57 percent of the 3.5 million people in the state have been vaccinated. “We’ve got to still keep our pedal to the metal on this,” Lamont said.

Each health care provider administering vaccines to young teens would be responsible for setting its own policy on how to assure parental consent, and on whether parents would need to be present for the inoculations.

Dr. Ohm Deshpande, vice president for population health at Yale New Haven Health, said Monday night that health professionals will be flexible in getting informed decisions from parents.

“We will basically navigate how kids show up,” he said. “Usually, parents accompany kids, but we can do verbal consent on FaceTime or if school groups come in, we can take written permission slips. We want to minimize obstacles.”

Charlene Russell-Tucker, acting state education commissioner, said that local school officials working with the state Departrment of Public Health will help sort out the issues of parental permission and she looks forward to the positive peer pressure kids can use to encourage that their classmates seek inoculations.

“So we’re very excited about that, in order to make sure we have the approval necessary,” she said.

“We’re certainly prepared to have families come to us at the vaccine sites,” said Leslie Gianelli, spokeswoman for Community Health Center Inc., which adminiters vaccines at mass drive-through sites in Stamford, Danbury, Middletown and East Hartford, at nine clinics and through traveling vans.

Giannelli said CHC’s policy is to strongly encourage parents of all youths under 18 to be present for the incuculation, “but we don’t require it. We understand that in some cases the parent cannot be present.” In those cases, the health center will require written permission.

Connecticut’s 7-day COVID infection rate remained below 2 percent, Lamont said Monday. The state recorded 17 fatalities over the weekend, for a total of 8,154 in the pandemic. There was a net reduction of 29 patients in hospitals with the illness for a total of 280 — the lowest in more than seven months.

“The numbers continue to be very good and continue to trend in the right direction,” Lamont said.

Connecticut continues to rank among the top states in the country for vaccinating those who are eligible. Lamont made his remarks during his regular, live-streamed coronavirus update from the Capitol, which finished minutes before the FDA announcement.

Seventy-one percent of those 18 and older have been vaccinated. Eighty percent of those 45 and above, and 92 percent of the people 65 and above have gotten the shot.

Among 16- and 17-year-olds, 50 percent have received at least one dose, Lamont said. “That maybe’s a harbinger of good things to come when it comes to the next round, which we anticipate from the FDA.”

The 2-doze Pfizer vaccine, developed with BioNTech, a German pharma company, is approved in most countries for youths as young as 16. It has been approved for children as young as 12 in Canada.

The Moderna vaccine, also two doses, is approved for people age 18 and older. The company said it will soon report positive results for youths ages 12 to 17, the Associated Press reported.