The following was compiled with elements from a press release from the office of Gov. Ned Lamont and information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
Gov. Ned Lamont and CT Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani announced late Tuesday, Nov. 2, that COVID-19 vaccines are now available to be administered in Connecticut to children ages 5-11. The availability of the vaccines for this age group follows the recent recommendations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Update, 9 a.m.: Wilton Public School’s General Administration Director Maria Coleman said a district sponsored vaccine clinic for Wilton children may be in the works. “Our school district is currently working with Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County and a local pediatrician to explore the feasibility of offering a clinic. If we conclude that there are sufficient resources for offering a local clinic, we would likely solicit interest from our parent community to help determine whether we should proceed.”
On Friday, Oct. 29, the FDA authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include children 5-11 years old.
With this announcement, nearly all of Connecticut’s school-aged children are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for children 5 through 11 years of age is administered as a two-dose primary series, three weeks apart. It is given at a lower dose — one-third the amount given to anyone over the age of 12 years.
According to the FDA, U.S. COVID-19 cases in children aged 5-11 years make up 39% of cases in individuals younger than 18 years of age. According to the CDC, approximately 8,300 COVID-19 cases in children 5 through 11 years of age resulted in hospitalization. As of Oct. 17, 691 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. in individuals less than 18 years of age, with 146 deaths in the 5-11 years age group.
Lamont’s press release noted that, “This roll-out is a critical tool to help keep children in school and protect not just children themselves, but also their parents, family members, teachers, and school staff. It is estimated that about 277,630 children between ages 5 and 11 live in Connecticut.”
Iin the past, Lamont has indicated that widespread vaccination of school-aged children will be a factor in any move he will make to lift his mandate requiring mask wearing in schools.
State officials said that children and families have multiple options for where to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut, including:
- Pediatricians: Hundreds of pediatricians are administering COVID-19 vaccines in Connecticut. However, not all pediatricians have the vaccine. If a pediatrician does not offer the vaccine, refer to one of the additional options.
- Pharmacies: Hundreds of pharmacies are offering the COVID-19 vaccines to children, including many CVS, Walgreens, RiteAid, and other pharmacy chains and independent pharmacies across Connecticut. Pharmacies provide a safe and convenient location to receive a vaccine. Pharmacies have provided special training for their pharmacist staff to provide vaccines for younger children.
- School-based clinics: The CT-DPH and CT State Department of Education are collaborating to offer on-site clinics at schools across the state. These will be led either by school-based health centers or special mobile teams who are specifically trained to offer vaccines for younger children. Information about such clinics will be provided by individual schools or districts. [Editor’s note: GOOD Morning Wilton has reached out to both Superintendent Kevin Smith and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice to see if any events are being planned in Wilton.]
- Other locations: In addition to the above, several health systems and local health departments will be offering COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11.
- For more information on where children and adults can get COVID-19 vaccines in Connecticut, including a search tool to find the closest available locations, visit the State’s website COVID vaccine portal.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said there won’t be any town sponsored vaccine clinics for young children, “Vaccines are readily available at numerous locations during flexible hours within Wilton and the surrounding communities. As such the Wilton Health Department will not be sponsoring vaccine clinics.”
“It is particularly significant that COVID-19 vaccines are available to children ages 5-11 because now nearly everyone will have access to this life-saving tool,” Lamont said. “Keeping students in school has been one of my biggest priorities, and having vaccines available for more kids is an important component of this effort. I have heard from all of my public health advisors, and they are clear in their guidance — this vaccine is safe for kids and it works. I’m asking all Connecticut residents to help us continue to be a national leader in vaccines and get your children vaccinated against COVID-19 at your earliest convenience.”
“The data is clear — the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5-11,” Juthani said. “We have a fantastic network of providers — including pediatricians, pharmacies, school-based clinics, and local health departments — who are ready to administer this vaccine to children across Connecticut. I encourage parents and families to protect their children and themselves.”
Dr. Jody Terranova, who serves on the executive board of the CT chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is also the organization’s immunization representative, encourages families to seek out the vaccine for the age group.
“For months, pediatric practices have been offering vaccines to children ages 12 and older, and it has been such a source of relief and safety for these kids and their families. I am delighted that the COVID-19 vaccine is now available for a much broader cohort of our children. Although kids often have milder cases of COVID-19 than adults, they still do get sick – and some children are currently battling long COVID as well. Getting this vaccine is the right thing to do to keep our kids and families safe.”
From the FDA
According to the FDA, the authorization “was based on the FDA’s thorough and transparent evaluation of the data that included input from independent advisory committee experts who overwhelmingly voted in favor of making the vaccine available to children in this age group.”
In a press release announcing the emergency authorization, the FDA noted the following evidence in support of the vaccine’s efficacy and safety for the age group.
- Effectiveness: “Immune responses of children 5 through 11 years of age were comparable to those of individuals 16 through 25 years of age. In addition, the vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 through 11.”
- Safety: The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children age 5 through 11 who received the vaccine and no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study.