Connecticut education and health officials are working together to organize clinics that would give children ages 12 to 15 access to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine as soon as the federal government gives final approval for its emergency use in that age group.
Clinics have been held at schools in more than 30 districts for 16- to 18-year-olds and others are being planned that could be expanded to vaccinate younger students, Peter Yazbak, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, said Tuesday.
“Having clinics on site at the schools makes access easy for students and eliminates some of the logistical barriers that might be there for them,” he said.
Yazbak said the decisions on how to offer the vaccine are being made at the district level with local health departments. He said some may opt for bus trips to mass vaccination sites or work with local providers to get the vaccine into the arms of 12- to 15-year-olds, with parental permission, as soon as that age group is eligible.
“The school-run efforts are really the most effective, because they are right there at the grassroots," he said. “They have the most communication with the families and providers."
About 49% of the state’s 16- to 17-year-olds had already received their first dose of the vaccine as of Sunday, he said.
The official sign-off on the vaccine’s use in the 12-15 age group will not occur until at least Wednesday, when a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee meets.
Yazbak and the governor's office said they expect many of the vaccinations will be offered on weekends, when parents can more easily accompany their children.
The governor's office said providers requested and received more doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week in anticipation of the age expansion.
Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday he does not plan to require that teens get the vaccine as a condition of returning to the classroom next fall.
In other coronavirus-related news:
LEGAL HELP FOR RENTERS
The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation creating a state-wide “right to counsel program" that will provide free legal representation to income-eligible tenants in eviction proceedings.
The bill, which passed on a bipartisan vote of 109 to 38, now heads to the Senate.
State Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford, co-chair of the General Assembly's Housing Committee, said less than 7% of tenants have legal representation in eviction court proceeding, compared to 80% for landlords. Among Black and Hispanic tenants facing eviction, 5% have legal representation.
“As a result of COVID-19, upwards of 103,000 families in Connecticut are currently behind on rent," McGee said in a statement. “It is vital, now more than ever, that our tenants in Connecticut receive the fair and equitable legal proceedings they deserve."
The proposed program, which will begin July 1 if the bill becomes law, will be funded with the state's share of federal coronavirus relief money.