Monday, April 22, 2024
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Needleman: COVID-19 Vaccination Update, Funding for Mental Health Awareness Training

By Norm Needleman, State Senator.

COVID-19 Vaccination Update:
COVID-19 Vaccines for ages 5-11 here as soon as next week;
boosters available for those eligible

With Tuesday afternoon’s decision by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee to recommend the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11, vaccinations for younger children are one step closer to distribution among the public. It is expected and hoped by state officials that final authorization for the doses, which are one-third the dosage size of vaccinations provided to patients over the age of 12 and have been found to be 90% effective in preventing infections, could be received by the end of next week, with children potentially receiving their first doses in the first week of November. The state has already ordered 100,000 vaccine doses for children between the ages of 5 and 11, and plans to partner with health centers and health departments to ensure widespread access to vaccination statewide.

Additionally, COVID-19 vaccine booster shots have been approved and made widely available for members of the public, with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters now available to individuals who received those vaccinations. Pfizer booster shots are already available.

Individuals receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are eligible for booster shots at least six months after their second dose if they are 65+ or 18+ in long-term care settings, working or living in high-risk settings, or have underlying medical conditions. Individuals receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible if they are 18+ and were vaccinated at least two months ago.

Local Health Departments Providing COVID-19 Boosters

The Connecticut River Area Health District is offering Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 booster vaccine shots beginning this week, with in-office appointments available for scheduling at Additional appointments will continue to be made available to anyone who is over the age of 65, or anyone who is over the age of 18 and is immunocompromised or lives or works in a high-risk setting. There are hundreds of additional provision sites at The CRAHD is also offering in-person vaccination booster sites to first responders and educators, and can begin offering clinics for 5-11 year olds when those vaccines become available. First responder or teacher organizations looking to arrange vaccination booster clinics should email or

Helping to Share Information about
Regional Addiction Support and Recovery Resources

Thank you to The Connection for organizing a coat drive and information table fair at the Clinton Premium Outlet to help spread the word about regional addiction support and recovery organizations. Organizations like Shoreline Recovery, The Connection, Connecticut Alliance of Recovery Residences, and Project Courage are doing vital work to give people in recovery the support they need. We all know the impact that addiction has had on our towns across all ages.

State Representative Christine Goupil and I will continue to do our part in supporting community and state initiatives to prevent addiction and help expand recovery services.

Wheeler Receives 5-Year Federal Grant
for Mental Health Awareness Training

Connecticut’s Wheeler has received a five-year, $625,000 federal Mental Health Awareness Training Emergency Services grant to deliver mental health first aid training to emergency services departments and other frontline personnel across the state, the grant funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Frontline professionals will be trained in recognizing signs and symptoms of mental health challenges, establish community linkages for referrals, train personnel in employing de-escalation techniques and educating the public about community resources. The grant is intended to support training for more than 3,000 professionals to expand awareness and potential treatment for mental health issues.

Connecticut Has Fifth-Strongest Rainy Day Fund In The Country
– And Could Be Higher

According to the Connecticut Mirror, Connecticut’s rainy day fund has swelled to $3.1 billion, which would allow state government to operate for 70 days if necessary. The Pew Charitable Trusts has found that Connecticut’s rainy day fund places it fifth overall among the United States, behind only Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia and Alaska.

An aggressive savings program, profit from increases in the stock market and federal relief against COVID-19 have all contributed to this laudable metric. What’s more, had the state placed its $1.6 billion surplus for the recent fiscal year in its reserves, instead of contributing those funds to the state’s pension system, it would land in second place, behind only Wyoming. Strong reserves place the state in a good financial position, especially considering the possibility of a future fiscal downturn, allowing it to ensure education, health care and municipal aid are funded without being cut.

In the late 2000s, the state’s budget reserve was drained in the Great Recession, but from 2017 to 2021, lawmakers placed aggressive savings reforms in place that allowed the rainy day fund to begin growing again. That led to today’s bounty, which will ensure the state has additional room to maneuver in the event of future difficulties.

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