Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine available to Connecticut teens
The COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer is now available to roughly 170,000 Connecticut residents, ages 12 to 15, at all clinics in the state offering that particular vaccine, Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday.
The state’s announcement came shortly after advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed use of the vaccine in children as young as 12, concluding it would allow kids to safely attend camps this summer and return to classrooms next school year.
“While COVID-19 generally doesn’t affect children as severely as adults, children are not immune from contracting and getting sick with the virus, nor are they immune from spreading it to adults and others who may not be able to be vaccinated.” said Dr. Deidre Gifford, the state’s acting public health commissioner, who strongly urged parents to get their children in the age group vaccinated.
Individuals 12 to 15 can be vaccinated at any clinic that offers the Pfizer vaccine as long as they are accompanied by or have the consent of their parent or legal guardian. While many pharmacies and mass drive-through vaccination clinics offer the Pfizer vaccine, most pediatrician offices don’t have it yet.
As of Tuesday, more than 71% of Connecticut residents over age 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 56% are fully vaccinated, which the Lamont administration said is the highest rate in the nation.
In other coronavirus-related news:
The Connecticut Senate has agreed to extend Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s civil preparedness and public health emergency declarations until July 20, even though most of the state’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted on May 19.
A bill that extended the governor’s declarations passed the Senate on Wednesday night, a day after the same legislation cleared the House of Representatives. The bill path both chambers, which are controlled by Democrats, along party lines.
“We still have work to do. There is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, who supported the two-month extension.
While Republicans in both chambers questioned the need to continue granting the governor such extraordinary powers, especially given the state’s relatively high vaccination rates, Rep. Mike D’Agostino, D-Hamden, said it’s “simply prudent to do.” He noted that some federal COVID relief programs, including extra food benefits for struggling families, require that such emergency declarations remain in place.
Democratic lawmakers have extended Lamont’s executive authority several times, often to the dismay of Republicans who argue it’s time for the state’s legislative branch of government to retake its power.
“The people need to be brought into this equation and given more of a voice,” said Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford.
But Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said it was “needlessly alarmist” to say the General Assembly has handed over its power to the governor. He argued it’s prudent to keep the authority in place as the state continues to emerge from the pandemic, especially given the ability of the governor to make fast decisions on short-term matters, unlike the General Assembly.
On May 19, all remaining pandemic-related restrictions for businesses are expected to end, with the exception of the requirements for wearing face masks indoors. Also, the Connecticut Department of Public Health is expected to issue recommendations for indoor and large outdoor events, such as concerts.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has decreased by 315.6, a decrease of 42.5%, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins. The state reported 187 new confirmed or probable cases since Tuesday. There were also five more COVID-associated deaths, for a total of 8,161.