Beginning Thursday, everyone 16 and older can register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Connecticut. Gov. Ned Lamont said the state expects to see 100,000 new appointments filled by the end of the day.
Registration for those who are 16 to 44 years old began at 8 a.m. People soon reported that vaccine slots were filling up and difficult to find through a number of providers.
“As is always the case when we start a new phase, there will be many more people seeking appointments than doses we are receiving this week we are ask everyone to be patient,” said Connecticut’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe.
As with previous expansions of the state’s eligibility, vaccines are being offered by appointment only. And state leaders are warning that not everyone who becomes eligible will find an appointment on the first day.
Those who are 16 and 17 years old can only register for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The vaccines developed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have only been approved for use on those 18 and older.
Residents and workers can find a nearby vaccination site and make an appointment through the state’s portal or by calling 877-918-2224.
Not sure how to make an appointment? Read our guide with common questions.
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4:05 p.m. — Angel Hwang, group president of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Group, commended Lamont for his leadership during the pandemic. She said the company’s Groton research and development site played a crucial role in manufacturing lipids needed to produce the vaccine.
Hwang said Pfizer is looking at the length at which immunity lasts after a person receives the vaccine it developed with BioNTech, along with other age groups that can receive the two-dose innoculation.
She highlighted data released by the company showing the vaccine was 100 percent effective in a study involving adolescents, and showing it was 100 percent effective against a variant that first emerged in South Africa.
4 p.m. — Gov. Ned Lamont said during his afternoon pandemic briefing that the state expects supply of the vaccine to outstrip demand by late April. The governor also said 81 percent of Connecticut residents over the age of 65 have gotten a shot.
Lamont also pointed to the fact the state ranks high in cases per capita, but low on deaths per capita, as evidence the plan to vaccinate those “most at risk” – meaning the oldest residents – paid off.
The governor said the state made 100,000 appointments on the opening day of the new eligibility.
“I know that many of you were there at 12:01 in the morning hitting that refresh button. Be a little bit patient,” he said.
1:45 p.m. — Dr. Ohm Deshpande, associate chief clinical officer for Yale New Haven Health, said “there was an onslaught” of people seeking appointments when the system opened early Thursday and 15,000 appointments were scheduled “in a few hours.”
11 a.m. — The state Department of Public Health confirmed that the vaccine access hotline was halted for about an hour Thursday morning. A spokesperson said that inbound calls had already stopped at that point because the schedules were already full. The halt put a pause on the hotline’s ability to do a callbacks.
10:33 a.m. — Lamont said Thursday morning that the 100,000 appointments were going to be made through the day. “Hope is on the way,” Lamont said, noting the state has a good supply of vaccine with more coming.
9:50 a.m. — With appointments quickly filling up across the state, officials with Community Health Center Inc., which runs mass vaccination sites in a number of locations including East Hartford and Danbury, said Thursday more appointments will become available and people should be “persistent and patient” when looking for a slot.
8 a.m. — In a message on social media, Lamont warned there will be a rush for limited appointments. “Our supplies are increasing. We will get it to everyone who wants it over these next weeks,” Lamont said.
7:50 a.m. — Yale New Haven Health said it was experiencing increased traffic to its external websites and was directing vaccine seekers to its main website to get an appointment.
6:30 a.m. — The CVS Pharmacy website indicates all appointments in Connecticut are fully booked statewide. Walgreens Pharmacy similarly showed no available appointments in much of the state. State officials have said that unlike other sites, pharmacies typically book appointments out for one week.
6:20 a.m. — The VAMS website shows no available first-dose appointments within 100 miles of Danbury, Bridgeport, Norwalk, New Haven or Hartford as of Thursday morning. While some clinics on the VAMS site indicated available appointments this morning for later this month — April 20 and April 26 at a location in Middletown and Waterbury, respectively — once choosing a date, the site indicated there were no available appointments.
6 a.m. — Some individuals in the newly eligible group were able to get appointments shortly after midnight. State officials said providers were advised to have their systems open to people ages 16 to 44 by 8 a.m. Thursday, adding that some might have opted to open sooner. Officials said VAMS and the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line will not open until 8 a.m.
Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday afternoon the state is on track to open vaccines to everyone 16 and older.
“As we prepare to expand vaccine eligibility to the final group of adults on Thursday morning, there is going to be an initial rush of people who attempt to make appointments during the first couple of days, similar to what we experienced when we expanded to other age groups,” Lamont said in a statement.
He also announced Wednesday 104 more pharmacies will begin administering doses throughout the state over the “next several days.”
The governor urged patience, and reminded people to check for new appointments added each day. The state expects those in the newly eligible group who want the vaccine — estimated at around 600,000 people — should be able to schedule a first dose within the next month.
With cases rising, state Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said it’s “crucial” those who want a vaccine should get one.
“Through everyone’s efforts, we are now able to offer vaccine to all adults months earlier than originally planned,” Gifford said in a statement. “While general availability of vaccines is a cause for celebration, we must also remember to keep up our guard against the spread of COVID-19. Even after you are vaccinated, you should continue to wear masks, social distance, avoid large gatherings and test and isolate if you are sick.”
Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday night that a batch of doses did not pass quality controls and could not be used. The company said an ingredient produced by another company did not meet quality control.
Maura Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Health, said Connecticut officials are aware of the issue and have been in contact with federal officials. She said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed Connecticut will receive its full shipment of the single-dose vaccine next week.
“We anticipate no interruption or delay in (Thursday’s) opening of the vaccine program to all Connecticut residents over the age of 16. No doses of J&J that we will receive or have received were impacted by this incident,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.
She said no doses have been shipped, or will be shipped from the facility involved, “so people should remain confident in the safety of the J&J vaccines administered in Connecticut. We anticipate further information and guidance from the White House and CDC (on Thursday).”
Justice department officials are warning residents to be on guard for scammers presenting post-vaccine surveys.
“Consumers receive the surveys via email and text message, and are told that, as a gift for filling out the survey, they can choose from various free prizes, such as an iPad Pro. The messages claim that the consumers need only pay shipping and handling fees to receive their prize,” officials said in a release. “Victims provide their credit card information and are charged for shipping and handling fees, but never receive the promised prize.”
To report messages containing a link to a post-vaccine survey, or contact information, call 866-720-5721 or file a complaint.
A trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with adolescents showed the shots had a 100 percent efficacy rate for those between the ages of 12 and 15. Experts say that could pave the way toward fully reopening schools.
But Connecticut public health and school officials have not yet committed to requiring students to be vaccinated. Meanwhile, the vaccine is also being tested on younger children.