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Connecticut begins vaccinating children 5 to 11 years old for COVID-19 after final CDC authorization

COVID-19 vaccines for kids 5 to 11 years old
Nicole Leonard
Connecticut Public Radio
Kareem Omar, 7, of Simsbury, gets his first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at Hartford Hospital Tuesday night shortly after the CDC gave final authorization to expand eligibility to kids 5 to 11 years old on Tues., Nov. 2, 2021.

At least one Connecticut health provider began vaccinating younger children for COVID-19 Tuesday night shortly after federal officials gave final authorization to expand eligibility to kids 5 to 11 years old.

Reem Nouh and her 7-year-old son Kareem Omar were among a small group of families at Hartford Hospital for the initial doses.

“This means a lot for us today, because my daughter got vaccinated. My daughter’s 14, and he’s been waiting ever since,” said Nouh, who lives in Simsbury. “Every day is, ‘Is it time? Is it approved? Can I get the vaccine?’ And so today when I told him, he jumped up, he hugged me so hard. He was really, really excited.”

Nouh said Omar is the last one in her family’s household to get a vaccine. Her husband is an operating room nurse who has worked throughout the pandemic.

“It’s a sigh of relief as parents,” she said. “You know, you worry every day. They’re at school – he’s masked, but you still worry. And so, hopefully we’ll get to travel and do more.”

An advisory panel of independent experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for younger children Tuesday afternoon after reviewing safety and efficacy data.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, gave final authorization shortly before 8 p.m.

State officials estimate there are 277,630 Connecticut children in this age group.

“It is particularly significant that COVID-19 vaccines are available to children ages 5 to 11 because now nearly everyone will have access to this lifesaving tool,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement.

Pfizer’s vaccine for the younger age group will contain about one-third the dose of vaccines for teens and adults. Children will still need to get a second shot three weeks after their first dose.

Kids 5 - 11 years old get COVID-19 vaccines
Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio
Connecticut Public Radio
(From left) Addison Woodman, Kailyn Cronin, Maisie Woodman, Kareem Omar and Thomas Muro wait to get their first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 to 11 years old at Hartford Hospital Tues., Nov. 2, 2021.
'We really want to know we're safe': Conn. kids on getting a COVID-19 vaccine

Thomas Muro, 10, had watched his older brother get his vaccines earlier this year when eligibility opened up to kids 12 to 15 years old.

“Now it’s our turn,” he said as he munched on a slice of pizza earlier Tuesday night. “My plan is to ask the nurse, once she’s done cleaning my arm, I’m going to ask her to do a high-five.”

And that’s exactly what Muro did after getting his shot right after Omar.

Kailyn Cronin sat with her friend Addison Woodman as they waited to get vaccines. They’re both 8-year-olds from West Hartford and hoped this was one step closer to getting back to normal someday.

“So we can take our masks off and be closer with our friends, classmates and family, and our grandparents,” Woodman said.

“We really want to know we’re safe and we’re connected to everyone,” Cronin added.

The girls, both in the same third-grade class, had plans to go back to their classmates with some advice and encouragement on getting the vaccines.

“Do you want anything for your classmates?” Woodman asked her younger sister, Maisie, who is in kindergarten and was the youngest to receive a shot Tuesday night at 5 years old.

“We can go more closer when we’re sitting,” Maisie said. “We have to spread out [now].”

Vaccines for children 5 years and older will be more widely distributed across the state at pediatrician’s offices, pharmacies, local health departments, school-based clinics, community health providers and other locations beginning later this week.

Nicole Leonard joined Connecticut Public Radio to cover health care after several years of reporting for newspapers. In her native state of New Jersey, she covered medical and behavioral health care, as well as arts and culture, for The Press of Atlantic City. Her work on stories about domestic violence and childhood food insecurity won awards from the New Jersey Press Association.

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