HARTFORD, CT — The state of Connecticut has administered nearly 221,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but demand still outpaces supply and there’s confusion over who is qualified to receive the vaccine.
There are reports of the elderly struggling to book vaccination appointments because they don’t have access to the internet. The state says it’s doing its best to help.
The 211 call center at the United Way has already taken 21,000 calls and booked 2,400 vaccination appointments, according to Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief operating officer, Josh Geballe.
Only health care workers and those 75 years or older qualify to get the vaccine right now. The next group includes those 65 years old and older, and then on March 1 it’s frontline essential workers like grocery-store clerks and teachers.
However, there was a miscommunication over whether teachers were able to start lining up to get vaccinated and after receiving a letter from the Department of Public Health, a handful of districts entered their teachers into the state system which allowed them to make appointments for a vaccination.
“Respect the process,” Gov. Ned Lamont warned Tuesday during his press briefing.
The letter regarding vaccines was only intended for school nurses, not every teacher in the school.
“We want to be strict about this, but we also want to make sure the vaccines get administered,” Lamont said.
The DPH sent a communication to all school districts, local health departments, and vaccine providers requesting that anyone who has an appointment for Friday of this week or later cancel these appointments unless they are over the age of 75 or if they were eligible to receive a vaccine as part of Phase 1a. Similarly, vaccine providers with clinics scheduled past this Thursday that are not devoted to individuals 75 and over or eligible in Phase 1a are being asked to cancel those clinics.
“What we have asked is individuals who have an appointment that was inadvertently scheduled in error, if that appointment is after Thursday of this week that they cancel that appointment,” Acting Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford said.
It’s unclear what action a local health district or vaccination clinic would take if they knew the individual was able to schedule an appointment in error.
“Superintendents will be working with their staff to reach out to them, and explain to them that their turn in line hasn’t quite happened yet,” Gifford said.
Geballe said only about a dozen schools districts out of the 200 in the state misunderstood the instructions.
Gifford said they believe teachers will cancel the appointment and “wait their turn” when they understand what is being asked.
Neither Gifford or Geballe could say what would happen if a teacher didn’t cancel their appointment and showed up for the vaccine.
Connecticut has administered 71% of the total doses it has received from the federal government, including 92% of doses allocated for all health care organizations and local health departments, placing the state in the top five of states for administering the COVID-19 vaccine.
The state expects to receive about 45,000 doses of vaccine per week from the federal government.