Super relieved: Shelton teens happy to get a vaccination slot even if it's summer

SHELTON — Eighteen-year-old Patrick Burden figured he wouldn’t be getting his COVID-19 vaccination for months.

Actually, he isn’t. But at least he’s on the list for one.

"I actually scheduled my appointment last night, just after midnight, right after I received an email from VAMS,” Burden, a Shelton High senior, said. “The earliest appointment I could schedule wasn't until this summer, but I'm hoping to be able to find a way to get vaccinated sooner than that.”

The state’s expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to everybody 16 and older went into effect April 1. And Burden and his peers were not behindhand in signing up.

Danny Connolly, 16, a junior at Shelton High, also wasted no time in scheduling the first dose.

Danny Connolly, 16, a junior at Shelton High.

Danny Connolly, 16, a junior at Shelton High.

Contributed photo / Contributed photo

"Being high risk … I have asthma … I’m super relieved that it’s finally my turn,” Connolly said. “I was annoyed when it got changed to ages and not health issues, but I’m grateful that we can finally get our vaccines and get one step closer to normalcy and safety.”

Burden said getting the vaccine was important for him since he is immuno-compromised.

“I want to be able to live and continue going to school without worrying about a virus that could have such a devastating effect on me,” Burden said. “I believe I missed out on a lot of my youth due to this pandemic, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to make up for lost time after receiving the vaccine.”

Shelton High graduate Matt McGee, 19, said he is grateful the state is at the point where all adults are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I encourage everyone who can to get it, as this is a gigantic step forward to ending a pandemic that has taken a toll on all of us,” McGee said.

McGee also praised the “local healthcare heroes” in Shelton, “from those working at our local clinics distributing the vaccine to those who continue to care for some of our most vulnerable within our community in nursing homes and assisted living centers. Thank you all so very much.”

Registration for those who are 16 to 44 years old began at 8 a.m. Thursday. People shortly after that began reporting that vaccine slots were filling up and difficult to find no matter which providers they tried.

Shelton High senior Florian Hurlbert said getting the vaccine as soon as possible a priority.

“Getting the vaccine will make me much more comfortable when the school comes back in full,” he said.

As with previous expansions of the state’s eligibility, vaccines are being offered by appointment only. And state leaders are warning that not everyone who becomes eligible will find an appointment on the first day.

Those who are 16 and 17 years old can only register for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The vaccines developed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have only been approved for use on those 18 and older.

Residents and workers can find a nearby vaccination site and make an appointment through the state’s portal or by calling 877-918-2224.

Lauren Bove of Fairfield said she has been concerned about getting her two sons vaccinated — one is 27 and one is 18.

The 27-year-old is fending for himself, she said, but Bove is trying to schedule her younger son, Sam, for a shot. He’s a senior at the Fairfield Ludlowe High School, and Bove said the plan is to keep him on remote learning until he is vaccinated.

“I don’t think the ‘open now’ directives make sense with all these (COVID) variants out there,” she said.

But she and her son are hopeful that he can get vaccinated and return to school soon. Learning remotely is fine “if you’re a self-starter and very organized,” Bove said, but her son does better when he has structure and direction.

So on Thursday, she began hunting for a vaccine appointment for him. Late Thursday afternoon, she hadn’t found one yet, but vowed to continue working on it.

For Sam, Bove, said, not being able to go to school has been hard, particularly since he’s a senior this year.

“It’s hard for him,” Bove said. “He’s upset and disappointed. I’m afraid it’s not getting him excited for college.”

Staff writer Amanda Cuda contributed to this story.