Health district says there's lots of uncertainty

·3 min read

Jun. 10—As the current school year winds down after unprecedented pandemic impacts, next school year looks uncertain, as currently children under 12 still aren't approved for vaccines.

It's leading to more uncertainty for those planning next school year.

Eastern Highlands Health District Director of Public Health Robert Miller gave some insight on the abundance of uncertainty surrounding vaccinations and what the next school year will look like.

" There's a couple of critical factors in there which we simply don't know the answer to now," Miller said.

The first factor is what percentage of students in the 12-and-older age group will con-

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tinue to take advantage of the Pfizer vaccine from now until the school year begins in the fall.

The second is whether Pfizer and additional vaccines will be authorized for use to those under 12 years old, according to Miller.

" If the planets align and the emergency authorization comes sooner rather than later for kids (under 12) and there continues to be robust demand for school age kids to receive the vaccine, then I think in the fall, the schools will have every opportunity to experience close to normalcy," Miller said.

On the other hand, Miller said if vaccination counts are lower than what public health officials want to see, then he believes schools may end up imposing measured precautions deemed appropriate to keep the school community protected.

He explained the state of Connecticut, the state Department of Public Health and the state Department of Education will likely make recommendations to the schools in anticipation of the upcoming school year on what COVID precautions are appropriate.

" And I suspect that they'll be basing those recommendations and that guidance, at least in part, on available surveillance data on COVID-19 cases, case counts, rates and also vaccination coverage for that age group statewide," Miller said.

Schools currently do not have access to such data on an individual school level, however, the state is able to see vaccination coverage data statewide, county- wide and may be able to generate it on a more local level, but that is not yet certain, according to Miller.

" It's really hard to say. That's really far in the future and those factors, there's a lot of uncertainty with those currently," he said.

As for requiring the vaccine in schools, that's also a " big open question," Miller said.

He said once the vaccines are granted formal approval by the Food and Drug Administration, rather than for emergency authorized usage as they are now, then it may make it easier for schools and authorities to require the vaccine.

Pfizer has put in a request to obtain this approval, according to Miller, but the status of the application is unknown.

Follow Lisa Massicotte on Twitter — @ LMassicotteTC.

If vaccination counts are lower than what public health officials want to see, schools may end up imposing measured precautions deemed appropriate to keep the school community protected.

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