HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH/AP) — Hundreds of Connecticut teachers were able to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment before they were actually eligible because of confusion over the rollout rules.
On Monday, Maura Fitzgerald, a spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, told The Hartford Courant that the issue came after some school districts (Cromwell and Berlin) mistakenly put their entire staff rosters into a registration system when the state actually had asked only for lists of school nurses.
The nurses were eligible for vaccination as health care providers. Teachers were not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The mistake was caught and DPH was able to address the error, but by then, it was a bit too late.
Teachers in those districts had received automated emails confirming their registrations. That enabled them to make appointments to get the shots, and an unknown number did so.
“It became clear to us that there were certain groups that were eligible and one of the groups was those in the educational system so as director of health I ordered that information to our superintendents as health directors did across the state, but very quickly that information was modified by DPH,” Health Director for Ledge Light Health District Stephen Mansfield explained.
He added, “It’s not the fact that people are trying to jump ahead in line and get in front of those who are eligible, they were simply following instructions from the State of Connecticut.”
The health director for Ledge Light – which covers part of eastern Connecticut – says this was not an isolated incident. Health directors from across the state acted fast when they got the green light from DPH to allow educators to be vaccinated.
Mansfield says those who signed up already should continue with their appointment. The state will be honoring those appointments through Thursday.
Acting CT Public Health Commissioner Dr. Diedre Gifford asks that “individuals who have an appointment that was inadvertently scheduled in error, if the appointment is after Thursday of this week, that you cancel that appointment.”
Mansfield said, “It’s a very fluid situation, and these things are bound to happen when you’re trying to vaccinate millions of people in a very short period of time.”
Those included in Phase 1B include those 75 and older, frontline essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, educators, and child care workers, grocery store employees, transportation workers, and those in group settings like nursing homes and prisons. However, until early February, the state is only scheduling appointments for those 75 and up.
Phase 1B includes more than 1 million people, so the state urges everyone to be patient.
Gov. Lamont is asking everyone to be patient, “Respect the process these are the Phase 1A people, this is the priority for Phase 1B.”
More information about scheduling an appointment can be found on the state’s website.