All Connecticut residents aged 16 and older will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine on April 1, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday, lowering the eligibility threshold four days sooner than previously scheduled.
Lamont had planned to allow all adults to make appointments as of April 5. During a press briefing, he said the timeline was accelerated as a result of increased vaccine allocations from the federal government and signs that demand was beginning to slow among the currently-eligible age groups.
“Starting April 1, in one week, everybody will be able to make that appointment,” Lamont said. The governor and other officials urged patience in the first few days of new eligibility. “Again, it’s going to be a rush at the gate.”
The governor said vaccine supplies have continued to ramp up. The state expects to make 200,000 new appointments available next week, he said.
The newly-eligible age bracket contains about 1.3 million Connecticut residents. Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said around 182,000 of them have already been vaccinated because they qualified for an earlier phase of the rollout, he said.
State officials estimate about 60% of those remaining will initially seek to get vaccinated — about 600,000 people or less. With a growing number of doses arriving, Geballe said they may get their appointments by the end of next month.
“With 200,000 doses coming in a week, you can do the math and understand quickly that we’ll be in a position in a relatively short period of time — probably before the end of April — where everyone in this state that wants to get a vaccine will have the ability to get one,” Geballe said.
As of Thursday, around 38% of residents aged 16 and older — more than 1.1 million people — had received at least their first dose of the shot. About 619,000 had been fully vaccinated, according to the Lamont administration.
The governor said he expected to soon reach a point when everyone who wanted a vaccine had received one. He said the state plans to spend $58 million in federal funds on an outreach campaign to encourage reluctant residents to take the shot. It will include phone calls and door-to-door canvassing, he said. Religious organizations also will be involved in the outreach campaign.
“We’ve really got to go out there and do everything we can to convince you, convince your friends to get vaccinated,” Lamont said. “You’re going to see a ramped up effort over the course of the next few weeks in order to do that.”