Governor Lamont and the acting public health commissioner released an updated timeline of who will be eligible next to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and essential workers will no longer get priority, as state leaders had previously planned. Those essential workers would have included grocery store employees.
“It’s a bit of a bummer. My employees, they’re on the front end every day. We’re working every day, seven days a week and we have a lot of exposure to illnesses and diseases,” said Joel Perez, the manager of Key Food Supermarket on Park Street in Hartford.
There are about 45 employees that work at Key Food that range in age from 16 to 60.
Perez said it’s disappointing the employees can’t get the COVID vaccine as soon as they thought, especially because their daily job entails a lot of interaction with people.
“I think it is a big risk. We try to keep our six feet distance, but not everyone follows those protocols. We’re dealing with money every day. People touch money and pass it on. We try to keep the transactions as limited as you can, but you can’t help it,” said Perez.
The Connecticut Food Association issued a statement writing that it’s unfortunate the change in policy excludes essential grocery workers. It went on to say that keeping grocery stores open “would not have been possible without the selfless individuals who came to work every day so that others could feed their families. We will be having difficult conversations with our associates who believed they would be eligible for a vaccination in the next phase.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 371 represents about 5,000 grocery store workers in the state. About a thousand employees are still testing positive every week, according to Keri Hoehne, the executive vice president of the union. “They really felt like at least they were going to get some protection and have a little bit of that anxiety relieved. And I think they just kind of feel like there is no end in sight. They just don’t know when they will have any kind of normalcy or any kind of safety,” Hoehne said.
For now, those essential workers will have to wait until their age group becomes eligible.
The governor's office says the goal of the new vaccination plan is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible as well as reaching out to underserved communities to make sure they have access to the vaccine.
The plan based on age is as such:
- March 1: People ages 55 to 64 can make appointments and get vaccinated
- March 22: Ages 45 to 54
- April 12: Ages 35 to 44
- May 3: Ages 16 to 34
How to Get an Appointment for a COVID-19 Vaccine in Connecticut
By phone: Call Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for scheduling at select sites.
Online: Schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment in VAMS, the Vaccine Administration Management System.
- Fill out the form to let the Department of Public health know you are interested in creating an account in VAMS. If you are currently eligible to receive the vaccine then you should receive an email from VAMS to complete your registration within 12 hours. Click here to create an account.
- Check for an email from email@example.com. Click on the link in the email and create your account. You will be prompted to retrieve a code that will be emailed to you. You will need to create a password and store it in a safe place.
- If you forgot your password, the "forgot password" link on the login page can only be used if you have created a password as part of your VAMS registration.
- Complete your VAMS registration.
- The first question that will be asked in VAMS is “Have you already registered as a vaccine recipient with VAMS?” The answer to this question is “No.”
- Questions with a red asterisk are mandatory.
- Insurance information does not need to be entered.
- You will be prompted to share some additional information about yourself.
- In order for VAMS to recognize your option chosen for race, click on your choice in the box on the left and click the right-pointing arrow to move your choice to the box on the right.
- Use your zip code to search for clinics near you in VAMS.
- The system will automatically search for clinics within a 10-mile radius of your zip code, but you may choose up to 100 miles from the dropdown menu, which might provide more clinic locations in your search results.
- You might need to check multiple clinic locations to find an available appointment. Find a slot that works for you, and book your appointment.