Two weeks ago, the New Haven Health Department launched its COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Since then, 2,000 people have gotten a vaccine.
“That may not be a great, significant number for others, but that definitely is an achievement,” said Health Director Maritza Bond.
They’ve developed a system to vaccinate more than 300 people a day, but the shipment of doses changes each week, and so does their availability. Next week they’ll get 600 doses total.
“We unfortunately just have to minimize the number of clinics that we can offer,” said Bond. “However, they are able to register at other sites.”
To help meet the demand for now, they’re planning to partner with Cornell Scott Hill Health Care, which also has vaccines.
Community Health Care, Inc. also started vaccinating first responders two weeks ago.
“Several of our clinics are booked out significantly and that’s a really good sign,” said Regional Vice President Yvette Highsmith Francis.
Francis said they’re meeting the demand in their locations around the state, even offering vaccinations seven days a week at some locations. She said they can make changes as needed depending on the day.
“We’re at a place where we can manage it well,” said Francis. “And we do have a couple of our locations that are larger and so we’re able to add an additional vaccinator and add that many more people to the schedule.”
“We have been vaccinating about 1,000 people per day within our system,” said Dr. Tom Balcezak, chief clinical officer for YNHH. “We have the capacity to do more. Some days we do less because we have fewer doses.”
The hospital system has vaccinated 16,500 employees which is about half its staff. Of those, 280 have received a second dose. He said this week they’ve received 6,000 doses and they’d like 10,000-12,000.
All three said they’re doing everything they can to vaccinate as many people as possible with their allotment. They each say they have a waiting list for vaccines at the end of the day for unused doses, and none have gone to waste.
Bond said they’re not seeing issues with people who are hesitant to get the vaccine, it’s the opposite. And as demand grows some are concerned about meeting it as more phases open.
“Connecticut certainly needs to be able to scale up,” said Bond. “We’re ready, we’re equipped and we’re just patiently waiting.”
She’s hoping for more reliability in the number of doses sent out in the coming weeks.
“It is my hope that we can get through this next week and a half with the current administration at the federal level, so that the new administration at the federal level can really come in and start executing a better plan for vaccinations,” said Bond.
A vaccine logistics team across the city includes Cornell Scott Hill Health Care, Yale New Haven Health and Yale University. Together they’re working on how they’ll approach Phase 1B and 1C vaccinations. It’s a partnership Bond said is critical for mass vaccinations.
“We were able to partner with the Old Saybrook community and pilot an outdoor drive through vaccine clinic a couple weeks ago that worked really well,” said Francis. “Our next step is to begin to stand up those drive through clinics that kind of mirror what we’ve done around COVID testing.”
They plan to have them open by the end of the month, a timeline that will depend heavily on more vaccines sent out across the state.
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