With about 60% of eligible residents vaccinated, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday that supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses has begun to surpass demand for the shots in Connecticut.
Lamont made the comments during a news briefing where he reported that more than 1.76 million residents ages 16 and over have received at least one dose of a vaccine and about 51% had now been fully vaccinated.
“We got to keep it going and I say this in the context that supply is now more than demand in many places,” the governor said. “You can often go right online and get an appointment.”
Lamont pointed to a decline in demand at many of the state’s van-based mobile vaccination clinics. “Maybe they can do 140 doses in a day, maybe they’re doing 15 doses in a day,” he said.
State officials have been predicting for weeks that Connecticut would turn a corner in late April as the number of residents eager to get vaccinated dwindled.
Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said demand has not evaporated. About 40,000 residents received their shots on Wednesday, he said. Around half were first doses, the other half were follow-up shots. Geballe reported that 96% of people in Connecticut have returned for their second doses when required.
“There’s still very good momentum but there’s no question that we now are at the phase of this program where, you know, demand is starting to ease a little bit. We’re seeing appointments readily available across the state and our focus going forward has to be more outbound,” Geballe said.
As he has in the past, the governor said he would not mandate the COVID-19 vaccine and expected that the private sector would help find ways to incentivize its uptake. At one point in the press briefing, Lamont seemed to be spitballing ideas to motivate people.
“A free-lunch, time off, gift cards, raffles. I was just told that Sacred Heart is doing a raffle and you go in and if you get vaccinated you’re eligible for the raffle, you win the raffle and you get an iPad. These are the types of interesting things that are going to make a difference.” he said.
Lamont said the state was making sure Electric Boat, one of the state’s largest employers, had adequate vaccines to conduct an on-site clinic next week.
Chris DiPentima, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said many businesses in his organization, which together employ close to 400,000 people, were working to educate and motivate employees to take the vaccine. DiPentima also said he believes Lamont’s Monday announcement lifting most COVID-19 restrictions next month, also served as an incentive.
“People are very, very excited about that and, I think, charged up and incentivized to get vaccinated,” DiPentima said.