HARTFORD—Connecticut will receive about 12,000 fewer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine next week than state officials had been expecting, Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration announced during a Thursday press briefing.
The reduction seemed to be a result of miscommunication between the drugmaker and the federal government and it represents about a 13% cut from previous forecasts, Josh Geballe, state chief operating officer, said.
While several states around the country reported similar issues Thursday, Pfizer released a statement denying any production issues or shipment delays. The drugmaker said it had “millions more doses sitting in our warehouse” but had yet to receive shipping instructions.
Lamont said the issue illustrated the complexity of the nationwide vaccine rollout.
“There are a hundred moving parts in terms of getting these vaccines out and a lot of variables there and an incredibly complicated supply chain but I think, so far so good. The next couple of weeks are really important,” the governor said.
Geballe said it was too soon to say whether the reduction would be an ongoing issue or how much next week’s shortage would impact Connecticut’s rollout timeline. He and the governor said the issue was somewhat mitigated by vials of the Pfizer vaccine often containing more doses than anticipated. The expected rollout of the Moderna vaccine also helped, they said.
Next week’s shortage is “not helpful, obviously. It may push the timelines back a week or so but, again, there’s a lot of other variables in play too here,” Geballe said. “Like, we don’t know yet what percentage of the Phase 1a populations will, in fact, take that vaccine.”
In Connecticut, Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout applies to frontline health care workers, nursing home staff and residents, as well as some medical first responders. Hospital health care providers began receiving the first doses of the vaccine earlier this week. Lamont said 1,982 health care workers had taken their first shot as of Thursday. The vaccine requires two doses, spaced about 21 days apart to be effective.
The state had expected to begin vaccinating nursing home residents and staff on Friday. Geballe said The Reservoir nursing home in West Hartford was among five facilities in the state which would begin that process this week.
The governor said vaccinating nursing home residents and staff was especially important. More than 3,300 nursing home residents in Connecticut have died with the virus this year.
“Knowing how we were hit by what happened in the nursing homes back in the spring. We’re one of the first four states in the country to be able to start vaccinating nursing home patients as well as nurses tomorrow. For that we’re very, very thankful,” Lamont said.
During the briefing, the governor provided an update on the state’s COVID-19 numbers, which saw the state’s positivity rate at 6.46%. Forty-six people died with the virus since Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 5,552. Meanwhile hospitalizations fell by 49. As of Thursday, there were 1,205 COVID patients hospitalized in Connecticut.