Questions Remain as 16 and 17-Year-Olds Are Soon Vaccine Eligible in Connecticut

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As the state prepares for 16 and 17-year-olds to soon be able to get vaccinated, many wonder how complications with the sign-up process will play an impact.

They’re only eligible for one of three FDA approved vaccines and there’s a consent concern, too.

The state has asked teens and those in their early 20s to not rush to get an appointment on the April 1 rollout date, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

“We talked earlier about patience at the beginning of a new phase and we know all the 16 and 17-year-olds and all the people in their young 20s, they don’t have a comorbidity. They’re extremely low risk,” said Connecticut’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe.

He said while the state won’t have any dedicated clinics for high schoolers or college students at the beginning of this rollout, “As we get later in the month into April and May, we will look to provide more dedicated access particularly as we get more Pfizer.”

Geballe said the state will have a specific filter on their sign-up website for 16 and 17 year-olds, so they make sure to sign up for the Pfizer shot, the only one authorized and recommended for those as young as 16.

UConn Health and Hartford Healthcare say their sites will have such filters too.

“We have a fair amount of Pfizer coming in, so I’m not concerned about that particular piece as we go forward, but our website will provide appropriate information that will guide individuals to the right place and getting the right vaccinations,” said Hartford Healthcare’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Ajay Kumar.

“The younger folks, they’re very busy with school and what not, so we suspect we’ll see more activity from that age group during spring breaks, which is coming up and other times like on weekends,” said Kimberly Metcalf, UConn Health’s primary vaccine coordinator.

As for consent, UConn Health said parents will need to accompany kids to appointments at their facilities.

“The 16 and 17-year-olds are considered minors, so we do need to have a parent there to sign for consent for treatment as well as for the vaccine, no different than when you sign for consent when you take your child to a medical appointment,” she said.

As part of the online scheduling process, and as long the patient meets all of the eligibility criteria (including age and state of residence), the patient will be asked to complete an immunization intake consent form that allows us to confirm eligibility, provide insurance information, and gather general patient health and vaccine information.

When we asked CVS and Walgreens for information about how their systems would filter by age to ensure 16- and 17-year-olds received an appointment for a Pfizer vaccine, they did not get into specifics, but did offer the following statements:

CVS

"All CVS Health immunizers, who are certified according to company requirements, trained in the administration of immunizations, and hold an active CPR certification, access and review that information prior to administering the vaccine."

Walgreens

"We will follow CDC, FDA and the HHS guidance for additional decisions regarding who can receive vaccines through our pharmacies. These decisions will rely first and foremost on those populations for which the vaccines are indicated and approved, and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine approved for children ages 16 and 17."

The state said the Department of Public Health is working through this with providers right now, and they expect to have more information for us next week.

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