By Dillon Thomas

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved children 12 years and older to get their Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, one local organization was quick to try and get their students a vaccine. Firefly Autism in Lakewood hosted a vaccination event on Saturday with some of the recipients of the vaccine being children living with autism.

People living with autism often rely and thrive on routines. For younger Coloradans with autism, part of their daily routines come with going to schools like Firefly Autism. However, the COVID-19 pandemic halted their ability to continue their routines, making quarantines at home often very difficult on families.

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John Griffith (right) and Jack Griffith (left) (credit: CBS)

Now, with a vaccine available for those 12 and older, students like Jack Griffith are one major step closer to returning to their comfort and routines.

“It hasn’t been easy by any means,” said John Griffith, Jack’s father. “These kids are really into routine. So, when you deviate from their routines, especially when you isolate them, that was especially hard on him.”

(credit: CBS)

On Saturday, Jack, just 17-years-old, was given his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Jack is non-verbal, meaning his communication is often done through sign language and a tablet he carries with him. Because he cannot verbally express himself like many others, the fear of him having COVID and not being able to express his feelings was a concern.

John said the vaccination not only would protect his son’s physical health, but would also help preserve his mental health as well.

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“We need to do everything we can to get back to some sense of normalcy,” John told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

Firefly Executive Director Jesse Ogas said the staff at Firefly has been hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics as often as they can for the general public. Since the vaccines were released, the facility vaccinated nearly 5,000 people.

(credit: CBS)

Firefly Autism serves Coloradans of all ages living with autism. While many are young children, one incoming student is 72 years old. With cases among youth on the rise, Ogas said getting his younger participants vaccinated was key to a return to normalcy.

“It’s the younger population, the 12-to-25-year-olds. That is very worrisome for us,” Ogas said. “We want to make sure that our children are safe at all times.”

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“It was great. It was a relief to know that is one less thing Jack has to worry about,” John said.

Dillon Thomas