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Panel says first responders, teachers, food workers to be part of next vaccine rollout phase


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    NORTH BRANFORD, CT (WFSB) — Connecticut is one of just eight states that has vaccinated more than 2 percent of its population.

However, Gov. Ned Lamont warned that the efficient rollout doesn’t mean the average person will get a first dose any faster.

Tuesday, the state’s Vaccine Allocation Committee met to discuss the timing of the vaccine rollout in the coming weeks.

The panel agreed that first responders, frontline workers, teachers and school staff, manufacturing, food workers, and anyone over the age of 75 should stay in Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout plan.

There is, however, support to add people in prisons, and group homes and other congregate settings to that list.

“We know that crowding people makes it more likely that they’ll transmit,” said Zita Lazzarini, co-chair of the Vaccine Allocation Committee.

While the panel didn’t set a date for its next meeting because it is waiting on more data from the Dept. of Public Health, they want to move as quickly as possible.

The Dept. of Public Health said Phase 1A will largely be done sometime this month.

They’ll move to Phase 1B as soon as the vaccine supply and medical community can meet the demand.

Lamont said it all comes down to the fact that Connecticut has been on the wrong side of supply and demand.

As an example, doses of the vaccine arrived at Evergreen Woods, a retirement community in North Branford, Tuesday morning. By the end of the week, state leaders hope every Connecticut nursing home resident will have received at least one dose. The problem, though, is the state still has a long way to go and only a limited amount of the vaccine.

The governor said the numbers show Connecticut’s vaccine rollout is moving efficiently, but the limited supply from the federal government has already had a negative impact. Initially, people between the ages of 65-74 were supposed to be next in line, but they were all bumped back to “phase 1C.”

“One thing we are working on very hard that you see in other places is a supply and demand disconnect,” Lamont said. “Sometimes you see vaccines on the shelf and not be used and collecting dust. We aren’t letting that happen. We are being careful. If a hospital calls and says they have extra, we move it to somewhere that’s in need.”

Lamont stressed that people in our state can rest assured that healthcare workers will administer the vaccine as quickly as possible after the doses arrive in the state.

As the state prepares for the next phase of the vaccination rollout, questions remain on who will be in the next phase.

While the group agreed on what groups should stay in the next rollout phase, there was disagreement on who else should be included.

Some members said the current guidelines overlook people of color, communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 infections, and deaths.

“They’ve taken no consideration of race and ethnicity into factor,” said Tekisha Dwan Everette, executive director of Health Equity Connecticut.

They focused expanding Phase 1B to include anyone with underlying health risks. But other members say that will just slow down the process. They say the goal should be focusing on the elderly, who are more likely to die from COVID-19, and the frontline workers more likely to spread it.

“We have to make some choices, which includes having the other vulnerable populations stay put for now while the help is on its way,” said Khuram Ghumman, president of the Hartford County Medical Association.

The group did say it wants more data from DPH, but understands it needs to make a decision soon.

“The public is waiting, they’re eagerly waiting,” said Nichelle Mullins, co-chair of the Vaccine Allocation Committee.

DPH said they’ll start moving to Phase 1B as soon as supply outpaces demand in the current phase, but they also need guidance on how to distribute the vaccine in future phases.

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Article Topic Follows: National-World

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