HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont announced Monday the state will continue with the age-based approach to COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, but added that educators and child care providers will have dedicated clinics beginning in March.
The state said this is “in an effort to ensure that Connecticut continues taking the most equitable and efficient approach to quickly administering the COVID-19 vaccine to as many people as possible.”
State officials have been implementing the age-based phase approach “because of the very limited supply of the vaccine that it has been receiving from the federal government.”
They added, “other previously considered scenarios proved overly complex and confusing, would potentially exacerbate inequities in vaccine distribution and slow down the process of providing it to Connecticut residents.”
“We found that risk was highly correlated to age in that it was very complicated to pick and choose between different exceptions there,” the governor said in a press conference Monday.
Acting Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Public Health Dr. Deidre Gifford added, “We understand that there are individuals with some of those chronic conditions, who want to get vaccinated, and that’s why we’re focusing on speed and simplicity.”
To provide clarity and predictability, the governor announced a schedule for age-based eligibility for the next several months:
- March 1, 2021: Expands to age group 55 to 64
- March 22, 2021: Expands to age group 45 to 54
- April 12, 2021: Expands to age group 35 to 44
- May 3, 2021: Expands to age group 16 to 34
Lamont said this schedule is dependent on weather and vaccine availability.
This is the first time the governor has broken with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations.
“The CDC gives you a little bit of cover, you can say, ‘hey we are just following the direction of the CDC.’ But it’s not working, it’s not working in terms of the lens was too big, it was too badly ill-defined,” he said Monday.
The last vaccine group, 16 years of age and older, is scheduled out to May 3.
News 8 asked the governor if he thinks the supply chain will hold or is he going to have to push the deadlines back. He said he believes this is a worst-case scenario. With Johnson and Johnson bringing a vaccine on the market, he believes the age groups could even find themselves being called earlier than he thought.
WEB EXTRA: Gov. Lamont’s press conference addressing new vaccine schedule
The governor’s office said, “In addition to the age-based eligibility, pre-K-12 school staff and teachers, and professional childcare providers will be eligible to receive the vaccine in March at dedicated clinics that will be set up specifically for those sectors. Educators and childcare professionals will soon receive information from their school administrators and employers on when their dedicated clinics will be provided.”
The education staff eligible to receive the vaccine in March includes teachers, paraprofessionals, teachers aids, custodian services, food staff, bus drivers and in-school administrators.
Gov. Lamont urged those education-affiliated residents who do not go into the school building and/or work fully remotely to hold off on signing up for the vaccine for a few weeks after becoming eligible.
“In a perfect world, we would have enough doses of the vaccine to get it to all 3.6 million people in Connecticut right now. However, each state is being given a very limited supply, which is why we must take this phased approach,” Governor Lamont said. “Connecticut’s health care providers have been doing an amazing job getting the vaccine to people as quickly as they can, and using age as the only qualifying factor is one of the reasons why they’ve had success so far. The last thing we want to do is complicate the process for them and cause delays that slow things down and exacerbate issues regarding equitable access. A vaccination program of this magnitude is unprecedented in recent times, and I appreciate everyone’s understanding of the fluid nature of this situation. My goal is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and I believe this is the best path to meeting that challenge.”
All eligible individuals in Connecticut are required to make an appointment in advance of receiving the vaccine.
To locate vaccination clinics, visit ct.gov/covidvaccine and enter their zip code. From there, users will be shown the nearest available clinics and provided with specific directions on how to make an appointment at each one, including over the internet and over the telephone.
Those who do not have access to the internet can call Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at (877) 918-2224. The line is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.