The state of Connecticut is entering a new phase of the vaccine rollout: supply is stacking up and demand is declining.
"Now it does become a new phase of this process and probably a much more challenging one because it's not people coming to you in large quantities, it's we have to go to them," Josh Geballe, the state's chief operating officer, said in an interview with NBC Connecticut. "It certainly gets harder from here."
Geballe said that about 40,000 people are still getting vaccinated in the state every day and about 63% of people 16 and older have already gotten the shot, but providers are starting to see many appointments go unfilled.
The governor's office has been preparing for this shift for the last several weeks, Geballe said, focusing on outreach.
"We have really ramped up our ground game: the mobile vans, the door-to-door knocking," said Geballe.
According to the governor's office, it is a mixed bag on who is not getting vaccinated. They are seeing momentum in the younger age group, people who are 16 to 24 years old, but they are still contending with misinformation about the vaccine's safety.
“We have work to do to continue to make sure people understand not just the benefits of getting vaccinated, but the risks of not getting vaccinated as well,” said Geballe.
The eastern half of the state is one area where vaccinations are lagging behind. Geballe said they still have work to do in terms of educating people in that region, answering questions and getting vaccines directly to the community.
“We know that there is a group of people out there that still need to be reminded of the opportunity that exists to be able to get vaccinated," said Patrick McCormack, director of health for Uncas Health District. The health district covers several towns in the Norwich region.
McCormack's teams have vaccinated upwards of 5,000 people at 32 of their own clinics. Now, they are ramping up their outreach efforts.
The health district is working with the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce to see if any businesses are interested in on-site clinics for their employees.
“Because we know one of the challenges is work and if someone has a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the clinic is when they work so they will be less likely to attend," said McCormack.
They are also delivering vaccine to home bound individuals.
Uncas Health District is working with trusted community partners as well, including St. Vincent de Paul Place soup kitchen.
“It really boils down to relationships because many people have different relationships with other people and are able to convince them at that moment to go," said Jill Corbin, director of St. Vincent de Paul Place.
Corbin learned that Uncas Health District was taking walk-ins at their Thursday clinic. She brought people right over including Paul Jiminez, who was not planning on getting the vaccine that day.
“She has informed me that I was able to come in today and actually get it done. That’s why I am here," said Jiminez, who lives in Uncasville.
Geballe said that kind of outreach and education will need to happen statewide.
“Just really giving the people the facts and making sure they understand how safe and effective these vaccines are," said Geballe.