All Connecticut residents aged 16 and older will be eligible to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations starting April 5 — one month earlier than previously scheduled, Gov. Ned Lamont announced at a press conference on Monday.
Residents 45 and older will now be able to register beginning Friday — the same day as Connecticut’s reopening of restaurants and other establishments to 100 percent capacity.
“There’ll be a bit of a rush, so if you’re relatively healthy, you maybe don’t have to go to work every day, you can telecommute, perhaps you think you had some sort of a mild infection in the past, maybe don’t sign up that very first few days,” Lamont said. “Give those who maybe have a little more need up front a little earlier. We are going to have plenty of vaccines over the course of the next month, and I think you’re going to find everybody has vaccines and appointments available to them.”
Connecticut has 1.3 million residents between the ages of 16 and 35, and the governor’s office anticipates that roughly 60 percent of that population will immediately seek out the vaccine, or nearly 800,000 people. However, 12 percent of that population, or 160,000 residents, has already received the vaccine in a previous stage of the rollout.
Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said they anticipate 625,000 people seeking out the vaccine when they become eligible on April 5. With the state expecting to receive 200,000 doses per week by next month, Geballe estimated that within a month of distribution, anyone who wants a vaccine will have one.
“By the time we get to the end of April, early May, most everyone in Connecticut who is eager to get vaccinated should have that opportunity, and then the game will change to continuing to work to drive those rates up across the board in all of our communities,” Geballe said.
Geballe also emphasized that the state’s vaccine distribution infrastructure is ready for the surge to come, which the state anticipates will be a 50 percent increase in supply over a matter of weeks.
“Our vaccine providers are ready to do far more,” Geballe said. “They’re ready to go, and we have a very high degree of confidence that they’ll be able to scale up as quickly as the supply comes from the federal government.”
Lamont said that the state will not be allocating specific appointments to people with comorbidities when distribution opens up to all adults, but that the state is encouraging healthcare providers to prioritize vaccinating those with higher risk.
“We’re going to make a big effort to make sure that folks who are most at risk move to the front of the line,” Lamont said. “Our hospitals are going to be thinking very thoughtfully about folks that have preexisting conditions.”
Nearly one third of Connecticut adults have already received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to about 21 percent of Americans, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.