Major CT Coronavirus Vaccine Eligibility Change Made

CONNECTICUT - Gov. Ned Lamont announced a major change to the state's coronavirus vaccine strategy Monday. Connecticut will now vaccinate by age group instead of moving on to essential workers and people with pre-existing health conditions.

"In a perfect world, we would have enough doses of the vaccine to get it to all 3.6 million people in Connecticut right now, however each state is being given a very limited supply, which is why we must take this phased approach," Lamont said in a statement.

The state set the following vaccine eligibility schedule:
● March 1: Expands to the age group 55 to 64
● March 22: Expands to age group 45 to 54
● April 12: Expands to age group 35 to 44
● May 3: Expands to age group 16 to 34
People will still need to make appointments for vaccines. The dates represent the first day appointments can be made - people between 55 and 64 will have to wait until March 1 to make an appointment.

Teachers, staff and professional child care providers can receive the vaccine in March.

Connecticut's age-based system is a first for the region. New York currently allows vaccines for essential workers and some people with pre-existing conditions. Massachusetts is also taking a more nuanced approach to the vaccination process.
Connecticut routinely ranks among the top five states for vaccinations per capita.
Around 96 percent of all coronavirus deaths in Connecticut were people over the age of 55, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Connecticut previously planned to include essential workers and people with pre-existing conditions that would place them at higher risk for severe coronavirus complications in the next eligibility group. Currently, front-line health care workers, people 65 or older, certain congregate setting residents and staff and long-term care residents and staff are eligible in Connecticut. Previously eligible individuals and settings will continue to be eligible after March 1.
Lamont cited an overly-complex process as the reason to move forward with a simple age-based system.

"The last thing we want to do is complicate the process for them and cause delays that slow things down and exacerbate issues regarding equitable access," Lamont said. "A vaccination program of this magnitude is unprecedented in recent times, and I appreciate everyone's understanding of the fluid nature of this situation. My goal is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and I believe this is the best path to meeting that challenge."

Going with an age-based approach would allow for a smoother rollout and more equity, Acting DPH Commissioner Deidre Gifford said.

"Sticking with an age-based vaccine rollout allows our vaccine providers to get as many shots as possible as quickly and equitably as possible into the arms of Connecticut residents, and vaccinating our education and childcare workforce will get our children back in the classroom this school year," she said in a statement.

Equitable access was a priority for the state's vaccine advisory group, said Nichelle Mullins and Zita Lazzarini, co-chairs of the group's allocation subcommittee.

"We agree with the governor's approach and, while not ideal, we understand that a continuation of the age-based system simplifies the requirements for vaccination," they said in a joint statement.



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