Connecticut accelerates COVID vaccine distribution

Connecticut plans to speed up the next age-based phase of its COVID-19 vaccination rollout by a few days and ultimately allow everyone else, age 16 and older, to begin making their appointments for a shot tentatively on April 5, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday.

"So because the rollout is going along pretty well because the supply — we have a three-week window from the Biden administration — is strong and stronger than we had anticipated even just a couple of weeks ago, we're going to be able to accelerate our schedule just a bit," Lamont said. 

Meanwhile, the state plans to work with health care providers and the Department of Developmental Services to accelerate access to vaccinations for the most medically high-risk individuals under age 45 during the month of April.

The state's plans to speed up the vaccination rollout comes as President Joe Biden's administration has informed the state that it should be receiving a "significant" increase in vaccine doses over the next several weeks from the three-approved companies. The state expects to receive about 130,000 doses this week, a figure that Lamont predicted could climb to about 200,000 doses by early April. 

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"This allotment, combined with our state's strong execution over the past several weeks, allows Connecticut to significantly accelerate the schedule so that we can equitably and efficiently vaccinate as many residents as possible," Lamont said in a statement, noting it's "still going to take some time to get the vaccine to everyone who wants it" and urged people to remain patient. 

Currently, everyone age 55 and older, health care personnel, medical first responders, residents and staff at long-term care facilities and select congregate settings, and pre-K-12 school staff and professional childcare providers are allowed to get the shot. Under this latest revised plan, individuals age 45 to 54 will be able to begin making their appointments on March 19, instead of March 22, as originally planned. 

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Connecticut had also previously planned to allow people age 35 years and older to begin getting vaccinations on April 12 and everyone age 16 and older on May 3. 

As of Monday, 59% of Connecticut's population over the age of 55 had received at least one dose of a vaccine, a figure that includes people who've received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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Connecticut continues to see new probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19. There were 2,525 new cases reported since Friday, data that stems from multiple days. The number of COVID-associated deaths increased by 23 to a total of 7,788 while the number of hospitalizations increased by 26 to 407.