Connecticut’s Shot in the Arm: State leaders, health officials discuss COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — As the release of several COVID-19 vaccines draws near, there are plenty of questions about what to expect. To answer some of them, News 8 is brought together state and regional health officials and leaders for “Connecticut’s Shot in the Arm.”

In a virtual town hall, which was sponsored by Hartford HealthCare, the discussion was aimed to answer topics surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine such as safety concerns, tiered distribution plans, community access, economic impact and the differences between the vaccines.

Below were the questions asked:

Governor Lamont explained why it’s important to take the vaccine when it does become available.

Will the COVID-19 vaccines be similar to the annual flu shot or more like historical vaccinations where you get it once?

When the first shot is administered, how long before it is effective?

Will this vaccine be effective? Is this virus in this second wave the same as the first or has it mutated?

Will the vaccine keep you from spreading COVID to non-vaccinated people and how would we know whether it did or not?

What if you had COVID and didn’t know it and got the vaccine?

If a person chooses not to get the vaccine, will the government enforce some form of penalty or punishment?

Insight on UK officials warning on the vaccine for those who had allergic reactions

Will you be able to treat adverse reactions from the vaccine at home or will they be severe?

How will the vaccines work with people with compromised immune systems?

Is the vaccine safe for people on certain medications?

Has the vaccine been tested on obese individuals?

How many people will have to buy in to achieve herd immunity?

Discussing vaccinating front line workers

Will individuals be assigned dates and times according to their need when distributing the vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines and seniors not in nursing homes. Will it be first come, first serve?

Will there be anything in place to take care of home bound people?

Teachers are not in the first phase of COVID-19 distribution. Why not?

State Representative Brandon McGee speaks on the communication surrounding COVID-19 vaccine

Doctor Reginald Eadie on Trinity Health’s announcement regarding the vaccine

Will children be required to take the vaccine in order to attend the 2021-2022 school year?

The panel’s final thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine

To watch the full conference, see below:

Below is a rundown of the featured guests:

Governor Ned Lamont

Ned Lamont is the 89th governor of Connecticut and has been leading the state through the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Lamont has given updates weekly on Connecticut’s Coronavirus response efforts and has issued several executive orders as emergency actions to tackle the outbreak.

Prior to becoming Connecticut’s governor on Jan. 9, 2019, Lamont started his own telecom company, which served over 400 of America’s college campuses and 1 million college students across the nation.

Doctor Reginald Eadie

Dr. Reginald Eadie was named President and CEO of Trinity Health in January 2018. He served as interim leader after Christopher Dadlez stepped down at the end of 2017.

Prior to Trinity Health, Eadie was the senior vice president and COO for Detroit Medical Center. He previously was president and CEO at several DMC hospitals. He also served as chief medical officer at DMC Harper Hospital and Hutzel Women’s Hospital.

In October 2020, Eadie was named a co-chair of Governor Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group.

Brittany Orlando, Clinical Lead for Stop & Shop Pharmacy

Brittany Orlando oversees the healthcare programs for over 250 pharmacies in the Northeast. She has successfully developed and optimized clinical services within Stop & Shop that have led to their recognition as a top pharmacy provider in the country. She has also led their team through the expansion of the brand’s immunization services, adherence programs, and community health initiatives.

Outside of Stop & Shop, Orlando is a faculty member at MCPHS University, where she teaches pharmacy practice management, clinical decision-making, and physical assessment skills. 

Stop & Shop has been donating essential goods to frontline workers since the start of the pandemic.

Onyema Ogbuagu, MBBCh, FACP

Among many things, associate professor, Onyema Ogbuagu, is an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Medicine. He’s spent his career investigating some of the world’s most pervasive infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and Ebola.

Now, he is heading Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine development at Yale.

A final analysis of Pfizer’s vaccine showed it was 95% effective at preventing the virus and protecting older people who are most at risk of dying from COVID-19.

In an interview with ABC News, he said the Pfizer vaccine will help people achieve immunity and that it will be “the beginning of the end of the pandemic.”

Keith Grant

Keith Grant joined Hartford HealthCare as the Senior System Director of Infection Prevention in January 2020.

He is an active member of the United States Air Force Reserve Corps. The 439th Aerospace Medical Squadron flight medicine provider worked on the front lines of the pandemic. He also built infection control programs, collaborated with other health departments and ensured that the proper resources were in place to promote infection prevention practices. 

Deidre Gifford, MD, MPH

Governor Lamont appointed Dr. Deidre Gifford to serve as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH) on May 12, 2020 — amid the pandemic — in addition to her continuing role as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS). Gifford began service DSS in June 2019.

From 2012 to 2015, Commissioner Gifford served as Medicaid Director in the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Gifford was Deputy Director for the Center for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Services at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) since 2016. Before joining CMS, she served as the Director of State Policy and Programs at the National Association of Medicaid Directors, where she led that organization’s efforts with states to support and advance value-based purchasing in Medicaid.

In October 2020, Gifford was named a co-chair of Governor Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group.

Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull

Michelle H. Seagull was appointed Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) in May 2017, before being re-nominated by Governor Lamont in January 2019.   From 2011 until her appointment as Commissioner, Seagull served as the Deputy Commissioner for DCP. 

Prior to this, Seagull was a partner at Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP where she focused on issues related to unfair competition laws. Seagull received her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

State Representative Brandon McGee

Representative Brandon L. McGee Jr., is serving his fourth term representing areas of Windsor and Hartford. McGee is the House chairman of the legislature’s Housing Committee and the chairman of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus. Additionally, McGee serves as a marketing and communications coordinator for the Capitol Region Education Council in Hartford and he also serves on the Education Committee and the Human Services Committee.

McGee earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Alabama State University in 2006 and holds an M.S. degree in Management and Organizational Leadership from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven.

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