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How Connecticut Employers Can Determine Eligibility for the COVID-19 Vaccine and Get Doses to Qualifying Employees

  • Connecticut proceeding swiftly with first phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, but has yet to determine eligibility for the next phase
  • Employers are encouraged to take an active role in providing access to the vaccine to qualifying employees
  • At the same time, state officials ask employers to use their best judgment to ensure the most efficient distribution of vaccine doses

As Connecticut begins preparations for its second phase of distributing COVID-19 vaccinations, employers are encouraged to take an active role in getting doses to eligible employees. However, state officials are also cautioning that employers must use their best judgement to ensure that the vaccines only go to those who meet the criteria to receive a vaccine.

Connecticut is currently in Phase 1a of its vaccine distribution plan, which prioritizes health care personnel, residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and first responders at risk of exposure to COVID-19. The state is hoping to vaccinate approximately 230,000 people in this round, anticipating that all nursing home residents and staffers who want the vaccine will receive it by the end of January and that health care personnel will be fully vaccinated by early February.

The pace of the vaccine distribution is dependent on weekly allocations from the federal government, though vaccinations in Connecticut have been proceeding swiftly. The state was one of the first to vaccinate more than 2 percent of its residents; Connecticut leads the nation in vaccine distribution at nursing home and is sixth highest in overall distribution.

Phase 1b recipients still uncertain

A wide range of professionals are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, including home health aides, licensed pharmacists, and dentists. There are certain exceptions, such as physicians working solely in telemedicine, employees at health care facilities who are working remotely or away from patient care, or first responders who aren’t actively responding to emergency medical calls or involved in the care of COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 cases.

Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout could begin as early as the end of the month, although the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group has yet to determine who will be in this group. Suggestions have included residents ages 75 and older, frontline essential workers such as teachers and grocery store employees, residents and workers in congregate facilities other than nursing homes, and workers in fields such as food service and sanitation.

While the goal is to have the vaccine provided to pharmacies in the coming weeks and made widely available to residents, this is not expected to occur until the late spring or early summer.

Employers’ role

Connecticut officials employers provide a crucial role in communicating with their employees about COVID-19 vaccine eligibility. In addition, the state stresses that employers should work to ensure that only those employees who meet the necessary criteria in the current phase are set up to receive a vaccine.

Under the process set up by the state, a designated employer coordinate completes a survey to prompt registration of their company through the Vaccine Administration Management System. Once verified, the coordinator can upload a roster of employees to schedule a vaccination appointment for eligible employees when a supply becomes available.

Coordinators are also invited to attend training on VAMS and how to offer access to the vaccine to their employees. A separate form is available for self-employed workers who qualify for the vaccine.

The state warns that the vaccine shouldn’t be used “as a gateway to get back to work” by remote workers who want to return to the office. Employers are also urged to use their best judgment to determine whether employees at their company are eligible for the vaccine. This consideration was recently illustrated by an error that determined that 53 employees at The Williams School, a private school in New London, were eligible for the vaccine. The school took corrective action, but not before 11 employees had received their first dose.

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