Nearly 260,000 Connecticut residents have so far received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 47,000 people 75 years and older. But Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday the state would like to see many more people vaccinated.
“There's one chokepoint,” the Democrat said. “We need more vaccines.”
Lamont, who this week was appointed co-chair of the National Governors Association's Pandemic and Disaster Task Force, said he plans to urge the new Biden administration to increase vaccine production, noting a growing number of states like Connecticut “have the capacity to vaccinate a lot more people if we had” more doses.
The state continues to roll out more vaccination sites across the state and currently has “far more capacity” to administer doses than it has supply of vaccine coming from the federal government, said Josh Geballe, Lamont's chief operating officer.
While some vaccination sites in New York City are canceling or postponing shots because of shortages, Lamont said he doesn't expect that to happen in Connecticut. “You get a reservation, you’re going to get your vaccine delivered on schedule,” he said, adding that the state is consistently receiving about 46,900 doses a week from the federal government.
“Could I use five times that amount? Absolutely. Do I hear from hospitals every day, ‘Give me more?’” Absolutely. But that’s why we’re doing this by appointment," he said. “We got this on a schedule. We've narrowed the cohort of people who can get it and if they give us more vaccines we can speed it up.”
Some Connecticut teachers, however, say they've had to cancel their appointments after being notified last week they could sign up to be vaccinated. Geballe said a “handful” of districts accidentally uploaded their entire rosters for employees, rather than just the school nurses, which the state instructed, for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Julie Roneson, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher in Bridgeport, said she and other teachers were told this week they had to cancel because only people 75 years and older were eligible for vaccinations. Roneson, of New Haven, said many teachers are upset because there continues to be widespread worry about contracting the coronavirus in schools.
“My first response was anger. I was angry,” the 58-year-old teacher said. “Because you kind of build up this anticipatory hopefulness that OK, just a few more weeks, then I can expect ... that I’m all the more safer.”
Roneson said she wasn’t exactly clear with whom to be angry, but placed some blame on the former Trump administration for not readying enough vaccine doses. She hopes the pace of vaccinations increases dramatically under the Biden administration.
“I just feel in the United States, I feel like it should not be a dilemma,” she said. “It should be that we’ve got the vaccine and let us have it. Please.”
Geballe said anyone who has accidentally received their first vaccine out of order should go ahead and get their second dose when it's due.
As of Thursday, 226,930 first doses and 31,337 second doses have been administered in Connecticut. The state is currently in Phase 1B of its vaccine rollout, with residents 75 years and older able to schedule their vaccination. That part of the phase is expected to take about two weeks, but could accelerate depending upon additional doses coming into Connecticut. The state is expecting a one-time bonus of 50,000 doses next week because of its pace of distribution.
So far, about 47,000 people 75 and older have so far gotten the shot.
People 65 years and older could expect to get their first dose in early February, while essential front-line workers and people with high-risk health issues could receive theirs in late February or early March. Residents and staff at congregate settings are also expected to soon get vaccinated as well.