Colleen Teevan, system pharmacy clinical manager at Hartford HealthCare, prepares for the distribution of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Yehyun Kim /
Jeanne Peters, 95, a resident at The Reservoir nursing home in West Hartford, receives a COVID-19 vaccine. The Reservoir was among the first nursing homes in Connecticut to begin vaccinating its residents against coronavirus. AP Photo

Elderly Connecticut residents not living in nursing homes will be cleared to register for the vaccination next week, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday.

Connecticut hospitals are expected to lead a series of regional outreach programs, working with local health and social service agencies, clinics and other civic and religious groups to sign up residents age 75 and older for the free vaccination, the governor said.

In addition, the administration will release details Thursday about a new website and phone number that seniors can use to schedule an appointment.

“We’re going to make sure there are no vaccines left on the shelf,” the governor said Monday afternoon during his regular televised briefing on the pandemic.

And while state officials are working to increase the quantity of vaccine available here, Lamont said the process will take a while.

“There won’t be room for everybody on Day One so you’re going to have to be patient,” he said.

Connecticut began vaccinating doctors and other front-line health care workers, along with nursing home residents, earlier this month, in what’s been termed “Phase 1A” of the state’s strategy to inoculate people against COVID-19.

Elderly residents not in nursing homes are the primary group in the next phase, 1B, and administration officials said they could begin receiving immunizations next week.

Connecticut already has administered 141,055 doses of the vaccine to date. Vaccines from drug-makers Pfizer and Moderna both require two doses to fully protect patients.

According to Lamont, the state has issued 133,190 initial doses to date, and 7,865 follow-up inoculations. 

About 3.5% of the state’s population has received at least one dose so far. Connecticut ranks fifth nationally among all states, Lamont said, in terms of the percentage of its population vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Gov. Ned Lamont gets his temperature checked at The Reservoir nursing home in West Hartford before watching staff and residents get vaccinated against COVID-19. AP Photo

All vaccinations will be free and will only be provided through an appointment, said Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer.

“It’s all appointment based. We don’t want people just showing up,” he said.

And while residents will get details starting Thursday on how to schedule an appointment, either online or by phone, state officials hope that many elderly residents will hear from health care agencies before that.

Hospitals will be coordinating with many local groups on regional outreach programs.

The goal, said Patrick Charmel, president and CEO of Griffin Hospital in Derby, is to ensure disadvantaged and underserved populations are not missed.

Lamont also announced Monday that 7,364 of the 116,244 coronavirus tests completed Friday through Sunday came back positive, a rate of 6.3%.

Another 92 people in the state died from COVID-19 during that period. Connecticut has recorded 6,416 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began.

Lamont also announced 33 additional people were hospitalized with the coronavirus over the last three days, bringing the statewide total to 1,142.

Daily and weekly test positivity rates rose steadily through much of the fall, and spiked briefly following the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

“We feel like we’ve got it under control for now,” Lamont said, though he urged residents to remain vigilante about maintaining social distance and using face masks.

The governor noted elementary and secondary school children recently began returning to classes and college students will soon start their spring semester.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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