Shelton teen first in his age group to get COVID vaccine from St. Vincent's

Photo of Amanda Cuda

BRIDGEPORT — A 13-year-old pestering his mom for permission to do something is nothing new.

But Matthew Loiz of Shelton wasn’t asking for a new phone or more time with his friends. He just wanted access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I’ve been asking for a while ‘When can I get it?’” he said.

His two older sisters, who are 16 and 19, received the vaccine while little brother waited for the use of the medication to be approved for younger teens like himself. The past few days have been big for children who, like Matthew, are aged 12 to 15.

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children in this age group. In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Wednesday that kids between 12 and 15 can officially begin receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

And, on Thursday, Matthew received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the clinic at Sacred Heart University operated by SHU and St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. He is the first child in the 12- to 15-year-old group to get the vaccine at one of St. Vincent’s clinics. He said he was relieved to finally get his chance.

“I was just really excited to get it, because I know that the quicker we vaccinate, the faster things can get back to normal,” he said.

Matthew’s mother, Nicole Loiz, is director of clinical operations for the medicine and emergency service lines at St. Vincent’s. She confirmed that her son has long pushed to get the vaccine, and she said she was happy that he finally got his shot on Thursday.

Nicole Loiz said, because Thursday was a school day, she didn’t expect many children in the newly opened age bracket to immediately get a shot. But she said she knows that it’s top of mind for a lot of families.

“It was just announced yesterday,” she said Thursday. “We’ll certainly have more interest this weekend and the weeks ahead. I’ve talked to a few moms and some were excited to get it. There are a lot of people who are very interested and eager and already scheduling their children.”

Tiffany Rodrigues, director of initiative integration and regional operations for Hartford HealthCare and St. Vincent’s, agreed.

“We even had a bunch of people try to walk up last night when approval came in,” she said, adding that those people were told to come back Thursday. “We expected a bit of a surge (in vaccination interest) with the expansion to a new population.”

Matthew said he’s glad to finally get his first dose, and added that the experience was painless.

“I didn’t really feel anything,” he said. “It doesn’t really hurt.”

Parents interested in getting their children vaccinated can visit HartfordHealthcare.org/vaccine for the complete list of Hartford HealthCare vaccine sites and hours of operation. Walk-ins are welcome.