Connecticut coronavirus update: State expanding vaccine eligibility to 16+ Thursday

Connecticut coronavirus update

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021
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Marcus Solis has more on how Connecticut is preparing for a flood of appointments as vaccine eligibility expands on Thursday.

HARTFORD, Connecticut (WABC) -- Connecticut is kicking off April by making COVID-19 vaccines available to everyone 16 and older.

Governor Ned Lamont announced on Wednesday that Connecticut is on track to expand its COVID vaccination program to the final group of adults, including all residents between the ages of 16 and 44, on Thursday, April 1.

He says all individuals in this age group will have access to schedule appointments beginning in the morning.

To schedule an appointment, Connecticut residents are encouraged to visit the state's website and enter their zip code in the space provided. Those without access to the internet can call Connecticut's Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224.

Individuals who are 16 and 17 years old are also being reminded that they should only sign up for a clinic that is offering the Pfizer vaccine, since that's the only vaccine that is currently approved for those ages by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Connecticut is currently ranked second in the nation in percentage of population that has received at least one dose.

"Connecticut's healthcare providers have been doing a tremendous job getting the vaccine to our residents, and the reason why our state is among the most vaccinated in the country is because of the remarkable work they have been doing," Governor Lamont said.

Governor Lamont also announced that more than 100 additional pharmacies throughout the state will begin offering COVID-19 vaccines over the next several days, adding to the growing list of locations where the state's residents can be vaccinated.

The governor's plan has received some criticism however, and raised questions about how adults with high-risk medical conditions will be prioritized when the expansion is based on age only.

State officials have said the age-based approach will streamline the rollout.

State Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe said previously the state is planning "dedicated clinics" for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are considered more at risk, the New Haven Register reported.

"We're working in collaboration to identify the width of the at-risk groups and how we'll prioritize them," Kathy Silard, president and CEO of Stamford Health, told the newspaper.

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The state expects to receive an increase of first doses to 200,000 per week.

"With 200,000 doses coming in a week you can do the math and kind of understand quickly that we'll be in a position in a relatively short period of time, probably before the end of April, where everyone in the state who wants to get a vaccine will have the ability to get one," Geballe told the newspaper.

Thursday's expanded eligibility also makes the vaccine available to minors, though only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for people younger than 18.

President Joe Biden has ordered that all states, U.S. territories and tribal nations to make the vaccine available to all adults by May 1.

On Monday, Lamont announced the deployment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's first-in-the-nation mobile vaccination unit.

The state was selected by FEMA to be the first in the country to receive one of these units, which consists of two mobile trailers.

RELATED | Connecticut fully reopens most businesses

It all comes after the state announced that workers will go door to door in 10 Connecticut cities starting this spring, urging residents to get vaccinated.

Hartford-based Grossman Solutions will oversee the $2.9 million outreach effort under an agreement with Lamont's administration.

"The door-to-door canvassing program will focus on knocking on doors in areas of need and getting residents scheduled for vaccination appointments," Lamont's office said in a press release.

The program also will promote mobile and pop-up clinics and "work to assist residents in hosting virtual house parties with their friends and neighbors to help ensure residents have the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and can share their experiences," the governor's office said.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health also announced a $5.3 million plan to expand call center services for the state's Vaccine Appointment Assist Line. Access Health CT, a quasi-public state agency, will amend a contract with Faneuil, Inc. to target communities high on the social vulnerability index or SVI.

"Our continued goal is to ensure that every resident of Connecticut who wants a shot gets a shot, especially our residents in underserved and vulnerable communities," acting Heath Commissioner Deidre Gifford said.

The door-to-door program will prioritize Black and Latino neighborhoods in Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford, Hartford, Waterbury, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, Bristol and Meriden, according to job postings on Grossman Solutions' website.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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