Covid vaccine

Amidst Covid Surge, State Officials Strongly Encouraging Booster Shots

While following CDC guidelines, health officials are suggesting a loose interpretation of some eligibility requirements for a Covid-19 booster to encourage greater response.

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With the announcement that the state’s current Covid-19 infection rate is at 4.3%, Connecticut health officials are urging all eligible people to get a vaccine booster shot. While there was an immediate surge in response to the booster, officials say the demand has plateaued.

According to CDC guidelines, adults 65 years and older, who are six months removed from their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are eligible. Also eligible are people 18 or older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

Eligibility is also allowed for people with a high-risk designation for pre-existing conditions or work-related environments. Those people, according to one infectious disease specialist, were quick to respond to the booster availability.

“I think there was a group of individuals, particularly the highest risk individuals, who were eager to get their booster doses,” said UConn Health’s Dr. David Banach.

Banach explains there has been a decline in demand since the shots were initially offered. Currently the state’s Department of Public Health says 440,000 people have gotten the booster shot. Gov. Ned Lamont would like to see more.

“It’s not enough. If you look at the Covid map right now we’re seeing all the states around us are red. That means there’s more Covid today then there was six weeks ago,” said Lamont.

The state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) says about 45% of those in the 65 plus age group have gotten the shot.

“We have a long way to go,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani.

To further encourage people to get the booster shot, state officials say the eligibility rules are less restrictive than they might appear. When it comes to the allowance for people in a high-risk category, there seems to be a loose interpretation

“Well, we’re still back-and-forth with the CDC,” said Lamont. “But you can broadly interpret it. Just self-report. If you feel like you might be somebody at risk. Go get your booster.”

Juthani stops just shy of saying “all” adults are eligible but is encouraging people to carefully consider a very broad range of health condition and lifestyle surroundings, as an eligibility validation.

“If you live or work in an area where you think you’re around a lot of people who you may not know, some of whom may have Covid-19, you are eligible for a booster,” added Juthani.

This messaging comes as the state is seeing its highest positivity rate in months and is approaching Thanksgiving.

“I want people to go into the holiday season being able to enjoy it as much as possible. Not potentially getting sick and having to be isolated for 10 days,” said Juthani.

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