All remaining Connecticut adult residents could be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as early as April 5.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that the state plans to accelerate its age-based rollout for the COVID-19 vaccine in anticipation of a significant shipment of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the federal government.
Individuals aged 45 to 54 will be allowed to schedule an appointment as early as March 19. Under the same plan, residents older than 16 years of age could schedule an appointment to be vaccinated as early as April 5. This moves up by one month the timeline announced on Feb. 22, which had the last cohort in Lamont’s age-based rollout,, ages 16 to 34, scheduled to begin receiving vaccine doses on May 3.
Monday’s announcement follows President Joe Biden’s March 11 statement that all eligible adults should have access to the vaccine by May 1, two days prior to the governor’s originally planned date.
“Based on our discussions with the federal government regarding vaccine allocation, we anticipate receiving more than 200,000 first doses per week by early April,” Lamont said in a statement. “This allotment, combined with our state’s strong execution over the past several weeks, allows Connecticut to significantly accelerate the schedule so that we can equitably and efficiently vaccinate as many residents as possible.”
The governor also stressed that the state will focus on accelerating access to the vaccine for those most medically at risk under the age of 45 in the month of April. The state will now move forward with prioritizing those who have preexisting conditions and are more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications. This follows backlash from disability group advocates after Lamont announced in late February that Connecticut will be pursuing a vaccination allocation plan strictly based on age.
According to Josh Geballe ’97 SOM ’02, the chief operating officer for the governor, the state government intended to pursue a policy prioritizing preexisting conditions when vaccine availability ceased to be a concern. Geballe said that with increased availability, the state would “leave it to health care professionals” to decide if individuals should be prioritized based on vulnerability.
At the press conference, reporters raised concerns about the high demand for the vaccine and the ongoing difficulties many residents have faced in making an appointment.
The governor said his office expects a rush for the vaccine in April when the vaccine becomes available to all ages, and suggested healthier adults “maybe [not] sign up [the] first few days” in order to allow populations most at risk a chance to get the vaccine first.
Geballe also stated that by late April or early May, everyone who is eager to get the vaccine should have the opportunity to receive it.
Reporters asked the governor whether universities in Connecticut should require students to receive the vaccine. The governor did not respond directly to the questions but mentioned that several universities have expressed interest in vaccinating all of their students before the summer. For its part, Yale has the capacity to vaccinate students before the end of the spring term as long as the University receives adequate supply.
“It’s still going to take some time to get the vaccine to everyone who wants it and I urge patience to the greatest extent possible, but over these next several weeks I anticipate that we will have an opportunity to considerably increase the amount administered each day,” Lamont said at the press conference.
The March 19 date to allow access to vaccines for adults aged 45 to 54 coincides with the reduction of capacity limits for many Connecticut businesses. On that date, capacity limits on restaurants, libraries, gyms and offices will be eliminated. Other limits, such as those on theaters, will still remain. Theaters will be allowed to continue to operate at 50 percent capacity.
Maritza Bond, New Haven’s director of public health, told the News that she was “elated to hear the Governor’s announcement” because it will allow the city “to vaccinate an age group that has been greatly impacted by the virus.”
Bond said that the city’s data indicates that a large number of positive cases in the Elm City has been among those aged 25 to 49 years.
“We look forward to getting every New Havener vaccinated and I am confident we will get it done with the help of the State, our local partners, and our tenacious nurses in the Health Department,” Bond wrote in a statement to the News.
Around 1.3 million vaccine doses have been administered in Connecticut as of Monday.
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