coronavirus vaccine

Patience Needed For Next COVID Vaccine Eligibility Group

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On Friday, 477,000 people 45 and over will be eligible to sign up for a vaccine, while 142,000 doses are expected from the government for next week. State officials say residents will have to have patience as doses won’t meet demand.

Connecticut Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe says doses are expected to increase each week throughout March.

“As we go through the month of April, we should be above 200,000 first doses per week, so this going to really go quickly,” said Geballe.

For the next few days, people 55 and up can book and reschedule appointments. By Friday he expects everyone left in that group will have one booked out over the next two weeks.

“If you’re 55 and above and your appointment is still several weeks out into the future, keep looking because more appointments are likely to open up in the coming days,” said Geballe.

Fair Haven Community Health Care has been planning for the expanding age groups. It’s the reason they opened a mass vaccination site at Wilbur Cross High School earlier this month. They are able to reach five times the people they see at their Grand Avenue location.

But members of the next group may find a wait.   

“Instead of getting residents and local people in in a day or two or three, it may take a little bit longer,” said Dr. Everett Lamm, vice president of clinical affairs for Fair Haven Community Health Care.

He says they’ll continue reaching out to the public including through more events like Vaccinate Fair Haven held on Saturday.

“It yielded several hundred vaccines that we are now administering literally as we speak,” said Lamm.

It even drew a waiting list of the 45 and over group eligible to sign up on Friday. The United Way is preparing to help navigate the process by having 300 people in the call center to schedule appointments.

Lisa Tepper Bates is CEO of the United Way of Connecticut. She says they regularly get 10,000 calls a day.

“We are not able to book 10,000 a day, we really wish we could,” said Bates. “We will book everything we do have, and that number varies a little bit from day to day.”

They work with 11 partners at 20 locations across the state to book appointments. They, too, are expecting a rush on Friday.

“We have to ask our friends and neighbors in Connecticut especially in those first few days of expanded eligibility to please be patient with us,” said Bates.

As expansion moves on, the state is working with providers to focus on 50 zip codes in high need for vaccines. 

“Our goal with our providers is to make sure 25% of the doses we’re administering every week are going directly to people living in those zip codes,” said Geballe.

For Yale New Haven Health, they are targeting zip codes in New Haven, Bridgeport and parts of New London County.

“We’re balancing the need to address those zip codes but also meeting the needs of our overall community,” said Dr. Ohm Deshpande, vice president of population health at YNHH.

That includes continuing community pop up clinics and being able to scale up their mass vaccination sites when more doses become available. So far, they’ve fully vaccinated more than 100,000 people, and administered more than 150,000 vaccinations across they system.

Deshpande believes the state will have much more than that number available on a weekly basis in April. But starting Friday, it will take some time.

“It may not meet the pent-up demand, but I think after the first two or weeks it becomes less of an issue to get a vaccine,” said Deshpande.

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