Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine next? State panel discusses Phase 1B

Coronavirus

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A panel met Tuesday to discuss who will be vaccinated for COVID-19 in Phase 1B in the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

Phase 1A distribution has already begun and includes those who work in health care facilities, nursing homes and first responders.

Currently, Connecticut is leading the way with vaccine distribution, just weeks after receiving the doses.

As the vaccine continues to roll out on schedule, state officials are getting ready to vaccinate the next group.

But who will that include?

Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, Phase 1B would include frontline essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, educators, and grocery store employees, as well as those 75 and older.

Those under 65 with conditions that put them at increased risk of death or serious complications would not be vaccinated until Phase 1C.

However, those are only guidelines set by the CDC. The final decision is left up to the state.

Representative Vincent Candelora came forward prior to the meeting, asking the vaccine committee to consider putting any teachers or school employees that are 55 and older into the next group to be vaccinated.

He said this will give parents and students more confidence in the educational system.

However, Governor Ned Lamont said that’s easier said than done.

“Everybody has somebody they want to move into the next group and into the front of the line. Obviously, if everybody has a priority then nobody is a priority, but I can understand teachers in the classroom, they are frontline, essential workers.”

The panel agreed staff and residents of congregate settings, including prisons and homeless shelters, should receive doses, as well as essential workers. However, the group could not agree on when to vaccinate other groups, including those with underlying health conditions.

The subcommittee is expected to meet again to finalize their recommendations to Lamont.

Medical Director at the Center for Key Populations at Community Health Center Inc. Dr. Marwan Haddad said, “I am a little bit concerned. I am concerned that when we look at the list of essential workers in the 1B, the percentage of Black individuals is low.”

Dr. Haddad points out Black individuals are most at-risk of death from COVID-19.

It isn’t about just rolling out the vaccine, but also where it is needed for socially-vulnerable populations, which is part of the planning.

The committee also has to drill down on many job titles and levels of exposure. Plus, they are monitoring the public’s demand and acceptance of the vaccine in Phase 1A.

That will be a barometer to move forward to the next phase.

“As soon as we see appointment slots not filling, we will be able to begin planning and moving to the next phase,” explained Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner, Dierdre Gifford.

The subcommittee did not make a recommendation on people under 75 with health issues in Tuesday’s meeting, though it’s a category a lot of people are waiting to hear about.

Phase 1B would begin at the end of January.

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