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Certain Diseases and Disabilities to Receive Priority Access When Connecticut Opens COVID-19 Vaccine General Eligibility on Thursday

  • Connecticut aims to give priority to several medical conditions as well as developmental and intellectual disabilities when general COVID-19 eligibility opens up on Thursday
  • Transition to age-based vaccine distribution led to some criticism that residents with medical conditions were being left behind
  • State’s plans also include clinics at high schools and colleges this spring

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Connecticut is seeking to give priority to residents with certain medical issues as well as intellectual or developmental disabilities when COVID-19 vaccines become accessible to the general population on Thursday, Governor Ned Lamont announced at Monday’s regular briefing on the virus.

The state departed from Centers for Disease Control guidance when it adopted an age-based vaccine distribution strategy on Feb. 22. The move also sparked some criticism, as it abandoned a plan to prioritize frontline essential workers and residents with underlying medical conditions that put that at higher risk of severe illness.

Lamont reiterated Monday that the shift was done to simplify vaccine distribution, saying the CDC list of serious comorbidities cast a wide net and likely included more than one million Connecticut residents. Instead, state officials consulted with chief medical offers at Connecticut hospitals and will seek to give priority access to people with the following conditions:

  • Sickle cell anemia
  • End stage renal disease on dialysis
  • Solid organ transplants
  • Down syndrome
  • Active cancer

In addition, Connecticut plans to vaccinate patients at Connecticut Children’s Hospital and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital and set up dedicated clinics, organized by the Department of Developmental Services, for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

Many people with the qualifying conditions have already been vaccinated since they became eligible for other reasons, such as age or living in a congregate setting. It is estimated that about 10,000 residents qualify for priority access due to medical conditions, with another 9,000 eligible for faster access due to intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Lamont also announced plans to set up clinics to administer single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines at colleges and universities in May to give students an opportunity to get vaccinated before returning home. Clinics will also be set up to administer Pfizer vaccines to students ages 16 and older at high schools starting on April 19, with priority given to 33 Alliance School districts with higher poverty rates.

Lamont anticipates that Connecticut will be able to set up 240,000 vaccination appointments this week when general eligibility opens up. According to the state’s latest data, 1.8 million residents have received at least one dose and 684,200 people have been fully vaccinated.

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