COVID vaccinations now open to anyone 16 and up in Connecticut

Beginning Thursday, Connecticut has expanded its COVID-19 vaccination program to all residents between the ages of 16 and 44.

The announcement has led to a major rush for appointments, as 1 million Connecticut residents can now get the vaccine.

State officials say that over 100,000 slots were filled on Thursday alone, although the rush has made the process to book a slot for a vaccination a challenge.

"I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. trying a couple of hotlines, tried again at 6 a.m. and I just kept trying, said Melanie Reyes, 27, of Fairfield. "I was getting pretty desperate, getting ready to call it quits before the start of my day."

Reyes did manage to snag an appointment, however, and state officials say they're looking to make sure that anyone who wants a vaccination will be able to receive one soon as sites increase capacity.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said the state has a "good supply of vaccine" that's continuing to arrive from the federal government, despite news that a batch of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine failed quality standards and can’t be used.

"Maybe you've heard some questions about the J&J vaccine. Our supply for this week has arrived. Our supply for next week is on schedule," said Lamont, who appeared at a Hartford child care center to highlight the child care funds the state is receiving from the federal American Rescue Plan.

"We remain confident everyone looking for an appointment will be able to find one within the next 2-3 weeks," said Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe.

Connecticut is the first state in the tri-state area to open up to residents as young as 16.

The news comes as the COVID positivity rate continues to climb, with the CDC ranking Connecticut the third-worst in terms of cases per capita. Still, Governor Ned Lamont says the broad vaccination effort is working.

Lamont also said that in the next few days, 100 new pharmacies will begin administering the vaccines as well.

With the Associated Press.

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