Cheri Cowles, of Terryville, receives the second dose of the Moderna vaccine. She said that everything was fine after receiving the first dose, and that she will still take all the precautions. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org
Mikaela Coady, a physician assistant with Priority Urgent Care of Ellington, fills a syringe with a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at St. Bernard Church in the Rockville section of Vernon on Jan. 28. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Gov. Ned Lamont has overhauled the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, prioritizing people based on age rather than on underlying medical conditions, job title, or other factors. The shift was announced Monday. The move represents a significant break from federal guidance, and Connecticut is one of few states to prioritize people strictly by age.

Here’s a look at how and when to get vaccinated under the new schedule:

Who is eligible?

As of March 1, people ages 55 to 64 can sign up for an appointment. Previously, those with underlying medical conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, and “essential workers” such as grocery store employees were next in line. Schools staff, including teachers, aides, janitorial employees and anyone else working in those facilities, will still be given priority. Special clinics for educational staff will be open starting March 1, with the goal of giving all workers who want a vaccine their first dose by the end of that month.

People aged 65 and older, as well as front-line health care workers, are also eligible and can sign up right now.

In the shadow of Rentschler Field in East Hartford a 10-lane COVID-19 vaccination clinic opened Monday, January 18 to vaccinate eligible individuals in Phase 1a and 1b by appointment only. It is Connecticut’s largest drive-through clinic and is administered by Community Health Center, Inc. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Who will be eligible next?

Connecticut will continue prioritizing people based on age. Beginning March 22, those aged 45 to 54 will be eligible to sign up.

People aged 35 to 44 can begin scheduling appointments on April 12, and those aged 16 to 34 will become eligible on May 3.

How do I sign up?

Qualifying residents can sign up online through the state’s website. Appointments may be made by filling out a form in the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). Several health care systems are also allowing people to sign up through their MyChart accounts, or through call centers they’ve established. Residents do not have to be a patient with any of the health care systems to sign up for a MyChart account and schedule an appointment.

The state has also set up its own call center for eligible people to book appointments. The number is 877-918-2224. The phone line is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Appointments are required to receive the vaccine. Walk-ins at any facility will be turned away.

For more information on where to sign up, click here.

Mikaela Coady, a physician assistant with Priority Urgent Care of Ellington, gives Jane McCarthy, of Manchester, a vaccination record card before giving her the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at St. Bernard Church in Vernon Thursday, Jan. 28. The one-day clinic was set up by Priority Urgent Care in partnership with the town of Vernon in an effort to reach out to the community to make it easier for seniors age 75 and over to get the vaccine. They dispensed 100 doses. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

What happens next?

People who sign up through VAMS will get a response with a date, time and location for their appointment.

Residents who don’t have access to a computer or mobile phone can schedule their shots through the state’s call center, though high call volumes have been reported. If wait times are long, the state’s phone system offers the option of an automatic callback.

Do I need insurance?

No. If you have insurance, you can enter your information when signing up (the provider may bill the insurance company for administrative costs). You also have the option of entering no insurance information. Regardless of insurance status, the patient does not bear any cost.

What types of vaccines does Connecticut have?

Connecticut receives weekly shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the only two that so far have received emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

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Jenna CarlessoHealth Reporter

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.

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