Connecticut hospitals may get Pfizer vaccine in days

(NIMH photo)

Connecticut hospitals could begin receiving shipments of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine in the next three to five days, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday, the same day a U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of the vaccine.

Those doses, to be shipped directly from the Pfizer warehouse to hospitals with ultra-low temperature freezers, will likely be prioritized for the "highest-risk employees" who deal with COVID-19 patients, "making sure those nurses and docs stay in the game," the Democratic governor said.

By Dec. 21, shipments of the vaccine are expected to be transported to CVS and Walgreens distribution centers and then sent along to nursing homes throughout Connecticut, Lamont said.

The state is slated to receive nearly 32,000 doses in this first order from Pfizer, which is being split evenly between the hospitals and the nursing homes, with more orders to follow. Doses of the yet-to-be-approved Moderna vaccine are also expected to arrive in about a week. Josh Geballe, Lamont's chief operating officer, said roughly 240,000 health care workers and nursing home residents and staff should be fully vaccinated by the end of January, assuming 80% of people in those groups agree to get a shot.

From mid-January to May, about 1 million people in Phase 1b are expected to get vaccinated. That includes critical workers, people living in other congregate settings, people over age 65 and those under age 65 who are high risk. Everyone else is expected to begin getting vaccinated in June. 

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"You will see vaccine clinics in the coming weeks and months at places like our federally qualified health centers. Our local health departments will be conducting vaccination programs," Geballe said. In addition to Walgreens and CVS, other pharmacies are being authorized by state regulators to administer the vaccine, while the state's large health care systems are scaling up plans to vaccinate the general community after taking care of their own employees. 

"You will see a very dramatic and large-scale ramp-up of administration sites across the state," he said. 

As of Thursday, 163 of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns were listed in the red zone alert level, the highest of the state's four alert levels for COVID-19 infections. To date, there have been 5,327 COVID-associated deaths, an increase of 42 since Wednesday's figures. The number of hospitalizations decreased by 48 to 1,214.