Yale students became eligible for vaccinations in the state of Connecticut on Thursday, but many students are struggling to make appointments.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Monday that while 16- to 45-year-olds would be eligible for vaccines this week, the priority would still be to vaccinate high-risk individuals in the state. University COVID-19 Coordinator Stephanie Spangler noted in an email to students that the University expected demand to far exceed supply for the beginning of student eligibility. She has urged students to try to procure appointments where available, instead of waiting for Yale to provide them. The state announced that it expects about 100,000 vaccination appointment registrations on Thursday, though many Yale students remain without a slot.
“I am having a terrible, no good, very bad time trying to schedule a vaccine,” Carlos Brown Jr. ’23 wrote in a text to the News. “The most difficult part of this process has been trying to navigate all the different platforms for registration and having no luck on any of them. … When I get close enough to see dates and times, it’s weeks away and I’m kicked out before I can even confirm registration. … I’ve been eligible for weeks at home [in Virginia] due to asthma but CT doesn’t consider it high risk for adults.”
Lex Schultz ’24 shared Brown’s frustration, noting that their YNHH and MyChart accounts crashed while trying to make appointments. Schultz said they ended up booking one 20 minutes outside of New Haven instead.
“I have to travel 20 minutes by car there, but I think it’s worth it to get vaccinated,” they told the News in a message. “I just had to make a MyChartPlus account, answer eligibility and insurance questions and then I was scheduled.”
New Haven pharmacies are able to distribute vaccines to students. Some local pharmacies, such as New Haven Pharmacy in Fair Haven, ordered their first shipments and expect them by Wednesday next week.
“There are so many more places [than] Yale, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart that have it, but I was not aware until somebody told me,” Shyla Summers ’24 said in a text to the News. “And I did not get it through Yale, I got it through a New Haven pharmacy. A good way [to get the vaccine] is to call through all the New Haven pharmacies and ask if they have it, because they aren’t widely publicized but have vaccines.”
The chaos surrounding appointments does not just apply to Yale students. This morning, the state’s vaccine access hotline had to be shut down due to demand.
While some Yalies in Connecticut are frustrated with their inability to get a vaccine, others, living further away from campus, have had less trouble.
Josephine Cureton ’24 is currently living in Cheshire, just under half an hour north of New Haven. She was able to get a vaccine appointment for Sunday morning in Plainville, 20 minutes north of Cheshire. She said she wanted to get the vaccine as soon as possible so she could safely return to her family in San Francisco after the term ends. She told the News that her process was fairly straightforward — she had been keeping tabs on a Facebook group aimed at helping people in the area find vaccines, and she managed to get one when a new round of appointments were posted at midnight.
Cureton noted that her experience was different from that of on-campus Yalies since she is not living in the middle of New Haven, where a large concentration of college students are trying to get vaccines at once.
“I think it was pretty easy,” Cureton told the News. “But there are so many colleges in New Haven and the New Haven area, so there are a lot of students who are trying to get these appointments,” she said.
She recommended that students who have access to a friend’s car or a rideshare app try to expand their options and monitor various sites.
In an effort to boost Connecticut’s vaccination output, the state is adding over 100 pharmacies to its vaccination program “over the next several days,” according to a Wednesday press release from the governor’s office. This list includes six New Haven pharmacies — Community Health Pharmacy and Visels Pharmacy on Dixwell Avenue, Hancock Pharmacy on Grand Avenue and the Rite Aids on Legion Avenue and Ferry Street.
Earlier this week, Lamont held a press conference in which he and Josh Geballe, the chief operating officer for the Governor, said those in their late teens and twenties did not need to try to get an appointment right away.
Lamont told reporters he believes the state’s youngest “should wait a little bit” before going to get the vaccine. Geballe agreed.
“If you’re the parent of an older teenager above 16 or if you’re in your 20s and perfectly healthy, give it a week,” Geballe said. “You’re going to get your turn very soon, but let’s let people in their 40s or people with some of these other conditions get their appointments first.”
As of 5 p.m. on Thursday, Connecticut has reported 312,468 total cases of COVID-19.
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Correction, April 2: A previous version of this story stated that Connecticut has reported 3,112,468 total COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. The case total is actually 312,468, and the story has been updated.