Line Forms Hours Before COVID Vaccine Clinic in Waterbury Opens

Waterbury is among the cities and towns deemed COVID-19 hotspots.

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Thirteen Connecticut cities and towns have been identified as COVID-19 hotspots in the state, including Waterbury. On Friday morning, residents arrived at a COVID-19 vaccination site hours before it was scheduled to open.

The mobile vaccination clinic at the North End Recreation Center opens at 9 a.m. and people were in line before 7 a.m., where due to a limited supply, the first 100 people, 18 years old and up, in line will receive a vaccine.

Carmen Martinez arrived three hours early and was first in line.

“i have mine already, but I had to bring my daughter because my daughter was calling everywhere and it was full, so I bring her here,” Martinez said.

She said her family had COVID-19 in December.

“For me it was terrible, it was really really bad,” Martinez said. “Fever, headache, I could not breath. I almost go to the hospital.”

Antonio Gonzales IV’s motivation was to see his family members again and to travel.

The Waterbury resident woke up early and got in line around 7:30 a.m.

“I tried the VAMS website, but at the moment a lot of them are really full,” he said. :It was very, very hard to go on the website and then continue to refresh, refresh, refresh because everything was booked.”

The North End Recreation Center is located at 268 North Main St. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  

In Waterbury, the state is seeing 69 positive cases per 100,000 people and local officials are expanding hours at vaccination clinics in response to the surge.

“We anticipate additional mobile units and support from the National Guard in terms of staff,” said Mack Demac, chief of staff for Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary.

Waterbury is urging anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 to not leave their homes. They encourage anyone who has been exposed and has basic needs, to instead call 3-1-1, and the city will ensure people have those needs taken care of so they do not need to go out in public.

The COVID hotspots in Connecticut are predominantly in the Naugatuck Valley region.

The governor’s office said over the next few weeks they will be working very closely with local officials in the Waterbury and Naugatuck areas in an effort to curb an upward trend of infections.

“Not sure why this is happening, but we are paying particularly close attention to it,” said Gov. Ned Lamont.

In total, there were 13 towns and cities identified as hot spots. In those areas, the governor said additional vaccination efforts will be made.

“Now we’re bringing the vaccination vans, making this a priority right up and down through the valley,” said Lamont.

The list of towns, which also includes towns outside the Naugatuck Valley, includes Waterbury, Bethlehem, New Milford, Wolcott, Brookfield, Derby, Union, Seymour, Watertown, Naugatuck, Torrington, Thomaston and Haddam.

The state said it is doing contact tracing but at this time it is not clear what is causing the uptick.

Dr. Marcia Tejeda warned that people need to continue with social distancing and wearing masks because the majority of people in the state are not vaccinated yet.

"The new variants coming that are here in this country and in the state are more infectious,” she said.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Check for an email from no-reply@mail.vams.cdc.gov. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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