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Connecticut Plans to Expand Vaccine Distribution and Outreach to Underserved Communities

  • Connecticut report on COVID-19 vaccine distribution by race and ethnicity finds that doses are lagging in distribution to Black residents
  • State plans to reallocate additional vaccine to communities with large minority populations and take other steps to ensure equitable access
  • Current distribution is targeted at older residents, with planned expansion to people with underlying health conditions and frontline essential workers

Connecticut is pledging to take steps to ensure more equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines after data from the state’s Department of Public Health shows that Black residents are not being vaccinated at as high a rate as Asian, Hispanic, or White residents.

As of Feb. 3, 51.7 percent of Asian residents in Connecticut who were over the age of 75 had received their first dose, along with 34.8 percent of Hispanic residents and 31.4 percent of White residents in this age group. Just 19.4 percent of Black residents ages 75 and older had received their first dose.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health says there are several caveats in interpreting the data, including the possibility of missing or underreported data, and providers or individuals selecting “other” or “not reported” when indicating race. However, Acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford says the state will begin making efforts to reach underserved communities by reallocating additional vaccine to communities with large minority populations and encouraging vaccine providers to conduct outreach in these communities to ensure equitable access.

Connecticut also plans to target 10 percent of the state’s vaccine allocation to senior housing, congregate settings, and other locations in towns and cities that rank high on the Centers for Disease Control’s social vulnerability index. Communities with a high SVI index purportedly face greater challenges when encountering a public health crisis due to factors such as poverty, crowded housing, and a lack of access to transportation.

The state is launching 60 additional pharmacy locations for vaccine distribution this week, with two-thirds located in high-SVI areas and the remainder in underserved rural areas. Connecticut will also ramp up its outreach efforts, with initiatives such as a training program for community leaders, “vaccine ambassadors” who have existing relationships in the community, and a Vaccine Appointment Assist Line for those who internet access or don’t speak English.

Connecticut is currently in Phase 1b of its vaccine distribution, and has vaccinated 61 percent of residents age 75 and older and 13 percent of the population between the ages of 65 and 74. As of Thursday, the state had distributed 417,644 first doses and 162,788 second doses, and had a daily positivity rate of 2.32 for new infections.

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