Kent High Watch clinic offering pediatric COVID-19 vaccines ‘to meet the needs of the community’

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

KENT — Young children may receive the pediatric COVID-19 vaccination at the High Watch Recovery Center on North Main Street .

The first two pediatric doses of the vaccine were given to children ages 5 to 11 at the clinic Thursday morning, with more children expected later in the day.

The clinic has received 1,200 pediatric doses.

“We just received the pediatric doses this week, and they are available,” said Jason Perillo, High Watch chief marketing officer. “Parents can, if they so choose, book appointments for their children on the VAMS (Vaccine Administration Management System) portal on the CDC website.”

No walk ins are being accepted.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 on Oct. 29. Children require a smaller dose.

The clinic’s hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday could be extended if demand for the vaccine increases, Perillo said.

“We’re going to see how it goes, and if appointments fill up, we are more than happy to add additional hours and additional days,” said Perillo, adding this will be evaluated within the next two weeks.

Perillo said he expects a high demand at the clinic for a brief period of time, and then, as with adult COVID-19 vaccines, the demand should taper off.

“In the early stages, especially when senior citizens were very eager to be vaccinated, we were vaccinating 300 people a day,” Perillo said.

“We don’t expect our volume at this point to be that high,” he said, adding until he gets a better handle on demand, he can’t predict how long the supply will last.

According to the CDC, possible side effects children can receive from the COVID-19 vaccine include pain, redness and swelling on the arm where the shot was administered. Additionally, general overall symptoms can include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea.

Vaccine demand for adults

High Watch is still administering Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for first and second dozes.

Additionally, Pfizer vaccines are being administered for booster vaccines for adults.

Perillo added the clinic had cut its hours due to decreased demand.

“Folks who really wanted the vaccine already got the vaccine,” he said.

The highest age group that has been coming into the clinic for a COVID-19 vaccine is younger adults, he said.

He added, however, every time a new age group opens up, High Watch gets a slight “uptick in volume, which then levels off pretty quickly.”

“The fact that the CDC has opened it up to kids as young as 5 will lead to another uptick in volume. We’re just not exactly sure what that uptick is going to look like,” Perillo said.

He added he expects the pediatric population to be somewhat “less eager” than the senior citizen population to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Senior citizens were different,” he said. “Every senior was very eager to get vaccinated. We are seeing some vaccine hesitancy for kids. Not every parent is interested in getting a vaccine for their child, so we don’t know what impact that’s going to have on demand for the pediatric doses. We are going to watch this very very closely in the first week to two weeks just to see exactly what demand looks like.”

High vaccination rates in town

According to CT.gov, about 2,180 or 78.47 percent of Kent residents are fully vaccinated — which is sixth in the state.

Perillo credits the clinic with the town’s high rates.

“We opened this clinic in January simply to meet the needs of the community in Kent, and from the start the town of Kent’s vaccination rates have been among the highest in the state,” Perillo said. “We’d like to think that maybe we had a little something to do with that.”

He said High Watch has the resources and location, and has “made a commitment to continue vaccinating individuals for as long as they want to be vaccinated. We have an ability and an obligation to meet the community’s needs.”

The Kent Station Pharmacy, at 38 North Main St., is not offering pediatric vaccines. They are, however, administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine only — for both initial doses and boosters, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Adults who have received Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can receive the Moderna vaccine as well. Those interested may register at healthmartcovidvaccine.com. For information, visit kentstationpharmacy.com.

sfox@milfordmirror.com.