Supply of COVID-19 vaccines could begin to eclipse demand in Connecticut by the end of the month, state officials said Thursday as they announced 100,000 people made vaccination appointments on the first day of open eligibility for all adults.
April 1 marked the first day when anyone 16 years old or older could make an appointment to be vaccinated. Many people took the opportunity, Gov. Ned Lamont said during a press briefing.
“We made 100,000 appointments today. I know that many of you were there at 12:01 this morning, hitting that refresh button. Be a little bit patient but right now the vaccine flow is still continuing,” he said.
A production mistake announced Wednesday which forced Johnson & Johnson to discard around 15 million doses of its vaccine will not immediately affect Connecticut’s supply, Lamont said, calling the incident a “hiccup.”
Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said everyone trying to make an appointment should get their chance in the next two or three weeks.
“We remain confident that everybody who is looking for a vaccine today, even if they haven’t been able to find one, will be able to find one within the next two to three weeks. So please be patient and hang in there,” he said.
Given supply projections from the federal government, Lamont said supply could soon begin to outstrip demand.
“Over the course of the next month, six weeks, supply could be exceeding demand and that means we’re going to have to work even harder to make that last 20, 25% of the population know how important it is that they get vaccinated,” he said.
The first dedicated clinics for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities are scheduled to begin Friday in Torrington and Trumbull. Geballe said around 1,000 people had signed up to be vaccinated at the clinics. He said the state expected to conduct another 17 such clinics over the next 10 days.
Over the last several weeks, many with pre-existing medical conditions have objected to Lamont’s rollout of the vaccine, which has prioritized age over medical conditions recommended under federal guidelines.
Lamont said the state has also worked with hospital administrators to prioritize younger people with a handful of especially vulnerable medical conditions.
“I’d like to say to others who maybe feel like they’re more vulnerable, it’s now available to you and I think your doctors, medical community will do everything we can to make sure you get vaccinated on a timely basis,” Lamont said.
Around 43% of eligible residents had received at least their first dose of a vaccine as of Thursday. Residents in older age brackets were much more likely to have been vaccinated, in part due to the state’s age-focused rollout. More than 80% of people 65 or older had received a shot.
As the state’s positivity rate has continued to slowly climb in recent weeks, state officials said hospitals have seen dramatic declines in the admissions of older people with COVID and deaths associated with it.
“We’ve had a grand total of five nursing home deaths in the last month. Five. In an entire month. So there’s evidence all around us right now of how effective these vaccines are,” Geballe said.
Angela Hwang, president of the Pfizer’s biopharmaceuticals group, joined the governor for Thursday’s briefing. She said Pfizer was continuing to study new variants of COVID and working to develop booster shots to keep the vaccine’s protections active beyond six months.
“The important thing to remember is that with the variants that we have seen, that are really quite prevalent in the world now, the need to boost is in our reality and so it will just be a matter of figuring out which time intervals that is,” Hwang said.