HARTFORD, CT — There’s no COVID-19 vaccine yet, but Gov. Ned Lamont appointed a new board Monday to come up with a plan to inoculate Connecticut residents when one becomes available.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group will be co-chaired by Dr. Deidre Gifford, acting Public Health commissioner, and Dr. Reginald Eadie, president and CEO of Trinity Health of New England. The group will also include vaccination experts, vaccine providers, state agency representatives, state legislators, labor representatives, emergency management officials, and representatives of highly impacted communities.
Lamont held his press briefing Monday after a conversation with Vice President Mike Pence’s White House coronavirus task force. Lamont said Pence’s direction to governors was clear.
“Get a plan ready for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s not going to be ready for distribution, at the earliest, at the end of this year,” Lamont said. “They were frank about that. But they want that plan now.”
The governor’s new advisory group, which will meet in public, will establish priorities for handling and distributing a vaccine, including ways to communicate to residents.
“So you can hear as we’re learning along the way about these vaccines,” Lamont said.
Paulo Verardi, an associate professor of virology and vaccine expert at UConn, has said COVID-19 is a more complicated virus than another infectious disease—because even when people are getting it they seem to be losing the antibodies quicker.
“Natural infection may not provide long-term herd immunity. It’s a severe concern,” Verardi says.
But it’s unlikely that herd immunity would have to reach 95% like it does with the measles to protect the public health. Verardi says it could be closer to 60%.
“It sure would be nice if we reached 70%,” Eadie said Monday.
However, the group hasn’t met yet so they haven’t talked about what the target would be for a vaccine.
Only about 50% of the U.S. population gets the flu vaccine every year. In Connecticut that number is a little higher.
“We have to build up confidence so people who are vaccine-shy, have some confidence that when we do this we’re doing it in an appropriate, safe and effective way,” Lamont said.
A recent survey of Connecticut residents found that while 20% were unlikely to get a vaccine, 63% of residents were willing to take it.