coronavirus vaccine

Making Plans to Reach Young & High-Risk People During COVID Vaccine Rollout

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In less than three weeks, everyone 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. As the vaccine rollout speeds up, hospitals across the state are reaching out to patients. Many of them, including Connecticut Children’s in Hartford, are thinking of those considered high risk.

“The most important thing we are doing is we are proactively reaching out to all of our patients who are 16, 17, and up who also have risk factors for getting severely ill with COVID, so underlying medical conditions or other issues,” said Dr. Patricia Garcia, a pediatric hospitalist at Connecticut Children’s.

The idea is to give those with high-risk medical conditions preferred access as the phases open up. On April 5, those 16 and older will be eligible to get the vaccine.

Doctors say it’s important to note that only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for 16 and up while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are currently available to those 18 and older. That means that until the FDA says otherwise, 16- and 17-year-old patients will need to get Pfizer. Connecticut Children’s says they’ll have that vaccine on hand for their patients. In addition to doctors knowing which vaccine will need to be given, Garcia says the electronic systems people use to sign up will also have that covered.

“They keep track. So they’ll know when you put your child’s date of birth in if they are less than 18, that they can only get a Pfizer vaccine,” said Garcia.

For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who live at home, the state says they’re planning to have dedicated clinics, to give them a safe and comfortable environment to get vaccinated.

“We recognize that some people in that population may have challenges wearing the mask or dealing with large crowds. So we want to provide a specialized vaccination opportunity as much as we can so they can access the vaccine quickly in April,” said Connecticut Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe.

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