vaccine distribution

State Gives More Guidance for 16, 17-Year-Old Vaccine Rollout

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Starting Thursday, 16 through 44-year-olds become the next group eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine in Connecticut.

But there are logistic complications for signing up 16 and 17-year-olds. They’re only eligible for Pfizer, one of three FDA-approved vaccines.

Governor Ned Lamont’s Chief Operating Officer, Josh Geballe, said vaccine providers should be specifying what vaccine they’ll be administering on their appointment sign-up site, so 16 and 17-year-olds or parents signing them up should just book for Pfizer.

“It will require extra hunting for 16 and 17-year-olds, but we’ll be at a point in a couple of weeks that there will be plenty of appointments for everyone and it won’t take a lot of effort to find what you’re looking for,” he said.

Geballe said 16 and 17-year-olds who sign up for Moderna or a Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be turned away from their appointment because those shots are not authorized for those age groups at this point.

After the initial rush of the rollout, Geballe said the state will target students at schools.

“We are planning to do Pfizer-specific clinics at a number of high schools around the state, so we’ll be partnering with initially the Alliance school districts which are in communities that tend to be underserved with vaccinations,” said Geballe.

Per the state’s website, The Alliance District program targets CT’s 33 lowest-performing districts.

He said then they'll "continue to work our [their] way around the schools around the state.

"We do recognize however that a lot of 16 and 17-year-olds may get vaccinated in the meantime through the traditional channels as well," Geballe continued.

“I think clinics for these kids would be helpful,” said Carol Blejwas, West Hartford teacher and mother of a 17-year-old.

She and other parents we’ve heard from have heard conflicting reports about pharmacies’ ability to vaccinate these teens, so NBC Connecticut asked Geballe.

“We are working with our pharmacy providers and all of our providers to try and ensure that everyone who’s receiving Pfizer vaccine is willing to provide it to all eligible residents including 16 and 17-year-olds.”

Parents also asked us about consent needed for 16 and 17-year-olds to get vaccinated.

Last week, UConn Health said parents would need to accompany their 16 and 17-year-olds to their appointments.

During Monday's press conference, Geballe said, “Different providers are going to handle it differently. I believe some will enable parents or guardians to consent online in advance of the appointment. In some cases, they may ask the parent or guardian to accompany the minor to the vaccination appointment."

Experts want parents to know their children may be emotionally impacted by a return to class after a year of learning remotely.
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