Helena Niziolek, of Plainville, gets the second dose of COVID-19 vaccination at a vaccination site in New Britain run by Hartford Healthcare. At its peak, the mass vaccination site that started at the end of February had about 500 visits per day on average. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org
Patricia Miglowiec, registered nurse, puts covid-19 vaccine into the syringe at the Torrington Area Health District. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org

Since Friday, when eligibility in Connecticut opened up to residents 45 to 54, about 80,000 people in that age group have signed up for appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.

As of Monday, 22% of people in that age bracket have received at least their first dose of the vaccine; 79% of residents 75 and older had gotten a first dose; 76% of people 65 to 74 had received an initial shot; and 53% of those 55 to 64 had taken a first dose.

Connecticut is accelerating its vaccine rollout. Lamont announced last week that eligibility for people 45 to 54 would be open on March 19, three days ahead of the previous schedule. The rest of the eligible population – everyone 16 to 44 – will be able to book an appointment beginning April 5. The state had previously set targets of April 12 for residents 35 to 44, and May 3 for those 16 to 34.

By Monday afternoon, 1.04 million people had received a first dose of the vaccine, and 584,155 residents were fully vaccinated. Connecticut’s positivity test rate over the last three days was 3.59%, slightly up from 2.87% on Friday. Nine more COVID-19 deaths were recorded, bringing Connecticut’s total to 7,841.

Starting next month, the state is rolling out a new fleet of mobile vans to bring the vaccine to underserved communities, Lamont said.

Thirty-five vans will deploy to vulnerable communities with the aim of administering 160 doses per day per vehicle. That’s on top of the “thousands” of mobile vans and pop-up clinics already underway, Lamont said. The state did not have an estimate of how many mobile vans are currently deployed.

By the summer, officials said the vans could also make rounds in other areas, including festivals or parks.

“By the time we get to the late spring, the summer, we’re going to have more vaccine than we’re going to have people who want to take it,” said Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer. “So we envision these mobile units operating almost on an ice cream truck model, where you can drive through neighborhoods and you can flag them down and get a vaccination, or they can go park at a popular food truck [area] or a festival.

“We’re anticipating a future very soon where everyone wants a vaccine has already gotten one. Now we have to make it as absolutely easy as we possibly can for everyone else.”

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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