Gov. Ned Lamont speaking to a crowd outside of Waterbury City Hall Thursday, Feb. 25. Adria Watson / CT Mirror
Gov. Ned Lamont speaking to a crowd outside of Waterbury City Hall Thursday, Feb. 25. Adria Watson / CT Mirror

Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday defended his plan to break from federal guidance and roll out COVID vaccines by age group only, and he suggested those who disagree with his approach should take their complaints to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At a press event in Waterbury on Thursday morning — designed to detail his plan to offer the vaccination to school staff beginning Monday — Lamont was asked about a federal complaint filed by Disability Rights Connecticut that claims the state’s age-based rollout is violating federal laws.

He pointed to complicated guidance from the CDC.

“Their real frustration ought to be with the CDC and the list of comorbidities that are on there and aren’t on there,” he said. “Folks with intellectual, physical disabilities weren’t even listed on the CDC list.”

Lamont announced on Monday the state shifted its initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout – which had prioritized people with underlying medical conditions and certain types of workers, such as grocery store and agricultural employees – to an age-based system, with the next round of shots open to people who are 55 to 64 beginning March 1, as well as prioritizing school staff and child care workers.

About 75% of residents with co-morbidities are in the 55-and-older age group, said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz.

When White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked about Lamont’s approach during a press briefing on Wednesday, she said, “We make recommendations at the federal level for a reason, because there are groups that we feel should be prioritized, whether they’re front-line workers, health care workers, individuals over a certain age.”

“Our objective, of course, is to get to the stage where there’s recommendations for people who are much younger, who don’t have … health conditions that would mean they would qualify,” Psaki said.

During Thursday’s press conference, the governor announced that the state has seen an increase in the number of vaccine doses, saying that when the state first started vaccinating residents, there were about 46,000 doses available a week, but now Connecticut is up to 100,000 doses a week — and the state is expecting its first 30,000 doses from the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.

“Help is on the way. We have in place the structure to help everybody get vaccinated, make it easy,” he said. “You can always go online [or call] 211. We have extra people able to answer the phone. Take advantage. I’ve got to tell you, spring is coming, spring is in the air. Vaccines are going to make this be something in our rear-view mirror very soon.”

Lamont also said on Thursday that the COVID-19 positivity rate dropped to 2.1% and hospitalizations are down.

Adria was CT Mirror's Education and Community Reporter. She grew up in Oakland, graduated from Sacramento State where she was co-news editor of the student newspaper, and worked as a part-time reporter at CalMatters. Most recently Adria interned at The Marshall Project, a national nonprofit news organization that reports on criminal justice issues. Adria was one of CT Mirror’s Report For America Corps Members.

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