coronavirus vaccine

Officials Clear Up Vaccine Confusion After Teachers Mistakenly Receive Appointment Notification

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As the coronavirus vaccine continues its rollout in Connecticut, the state’s health department is having to clear up some confusion after more teachers received notifications to sign up to get vaccinated.

But per state rollout regulations, it’s not yet their turn to do so unless they are 75 or older.

“We have over 200 school districts in the state. We have 300 private schools in this state, best we can tell that there were only about a dozen who misunderstood the instructions, so we think the issues here are pretty limited,” said state Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe.

A state spokesperson confirmed that these school districts uploaded their entire staff rosters into Connecticut’s vaccine registration system instead of just school nurses who are eligible as health care workers.

So, when the entire staff gets added to the system it automatically sent out emails to them to sign up to get the shot.

This is a mistake first reported earlier this month at The Williams School in New London.

This week, the state sent out this letter to Connecticut school leaders asking any teacher who had made an appointment for Friday or later of this week to cancel it to ensure the state's focus continues on those 75 and older.

“I'm confident, and we've already seen this, when teachers understand what's being asked that they will cancel the appointments and wait for their turn,” said acting Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deirdre Gifford.

While school districts like New Haven continue to navigate schooling during the coronavirus crisis, the district's superintendent said she'll wait to hear from the city's Department of Health for when teachers in her schools can start getting vaccinated.

“It's going to take a while for all staff to be vaccinated,” said New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Iline P. Tracey.

“We received information from the state that we should not yet distribute that information because they do not have enough of the vaccine on hand right now," she added.

Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents Executive Director Fran Rabinowitz said this issue “demonstrated for all of us how important communication is always.”

Adding, “we didn’t get it perfect, but we fixed it when it wasn’t perfect.”

In the letter sent out this week, DPH writes with a historic vaccine rollout underway, there will be “bumps along the way.”

“We know that there’s been no dress rehearsal for this,” said Patrice McCarthy, deputy director of Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.

And while we all wish this crisis could soon be over, education experts who spoke to NBC Connecticut said the reality is it will take some time before teachers are vaccinated and we can even start to visualize a post COVID-19 education system.

“Yes, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s going to take some months,” said Rabinowitz.

“It really is a supply issue and we know that these are very essential workers and we know that everything is being done to get this vaccine to as many people as quickly as possible,” said McCarthy.

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