coronavirus in connecticut

Success & Stress: Mixed Feelings as Folks 75 & Older Attempt to Sign Up for Vaccination

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Thursday, Connecticut residents 75 and older could start getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

While some lucky few got the shot, others were thankful to just make an appointment.

As the demand in distribution grows, so does the frustration, so Governor Ned Lamont is urging folks to be patient during this historic rollout.

81-year-old Daniel Fine of West Hartford was one of about 150 folks scheduled Thursday morning for a coronavirus vaccine at UConn Health.

Once he heard folks 75 and older could sign up, he called Wednesday and said it was such a relief to get an appointment scheduled for the next day.

“Finding a parking space was difficult getting a shot was like duck soup. It was just so easy and the people were great,” said Fine.

“My husband and I both have underlying causes, so if we get it, we’re out. So this is making me happy, very happy,” said Patty Drzata of Burlington, who also got the vaccine Thursday at UConn Health.

Drzata beat her husband to the sign up. “His appointment is not until February 9, so it filled up that fast.”

But, even getting appointment around the state hasn’t been easy for everyone.

“I was under the assumption that it was today at 11:50. I drove 70 miles from Wilton,” said James Bernstein, after driving to Farmington where he was turned away. He was told he wasn’t signed up after all.

Bernstein and others we spoke to think the state needs to find a better solution to giving out the shot.

“The process is so convoluted, you need to streamline it,” said Bernstein.

“She lives by herself, she has no TV, she has no internet. Limited phone access,” said Aida Nunez of Manchester, who struggled all day to help her 85-year-old friend from Hartford sign up.

She said her friend has no family to help her.

And even someone as tech savvy as her can’t figure it out.

“All of these numbers say busy, busy, busy or you go to this website and how can I go to this website and if I don’t know how, Ms. Johnson sure don’t know how.”

After 20 minutes waiting on hold, we were able to get Ms. Johnson an appointment, but we had a luxury: NBC Connecticut had just learned of a new number created by UConn Health to help with the volume of calls they started to get.

Thursday, during a news conference Lamont asked people for patience. The process, he said, will take time.

In a statement released Thursday he said, “We know many people are excited to receive the vaccine and the promise of the future that comes with it, but we are limited in our ability to distribute them purely based on the amount we receive from the federal government. We are hopeful we will see increased allocations in the coming weeks and months, which will lead to even more light at the end of the tunnel.”

UConn Health said they hope to increase the number of vaccines they can give out daily by opening a second location on their Farmington campus next week.

And while we were grateful to help Ms. Johnson out, Nunez hopes the state can start bringing shots to underserved and overlooked communities, because her next challenge is getting Ms. Johnson to her appointment.

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