Residents 75 and older can get vaccine in next phase

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Senior citizens age 75 and older will be able to start registering for COVID-19 vaccination appointments next week, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday.

This vulnerable population will be the first outside of people living in nursing homes and other congregate care settings to be slated for inoculation under the state’s vaccination distribution plan.

Eligible individuals will have to make an appointment through a new website or dedicated telephone line. Information on the appointment process is expected to be released Thursday.

Various methods will be used to identify eligible candidates, including outreach from hospitals where patients have been treated or had medical tests done, social service agencies, houses of worship, and housing authorities

The Lamont administration is looking to avoid the free-for-alls that happened in other states that did not require advance registration for older residents who are living independently.

“I think you’ve seen the pictures from Florida and other places — first come, first serve, everybody over 55 come and join — but that’s not the way it’s going to work,” Lamont said

Walk-ups will be turned away from vaccination locations, said Josh Geballe, the governor’s chief operating officer.

“You won’t get a vaccine if you show up without an appointment,” he said. “So, keep that in mind, but it will be very clear for folks how they can book their appointments in the coming days.”

He said there are already more than 100 vaccination sites across the state, and the state is planning on establishing more broad-based, appointment-only vaccination clinics soon.

Lamont said one of the first will be set up at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, where the University of Connecticut football team plays. Other large sites are also being considered, including the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.

Vaccines are now being administered to direct care providers and other critical workers in health care settings, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, and first responders at risk of exposure.

As of Monday, 141,055 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been administered in Phase 1a — 133,190 first doses and 7,866 second doses.

THE ALLOCATION SUBCOMMITTEE of the Governor’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday to finish up its recommendations for essential workers and vulnerable communities to include in Phase 1b of vaccination distribution.

Subcommittee members were unable to reach consensus last week on at-risk groups other than people 75 and older to recommend be vaccinated in Phase 1b.

These included the elderly age 65 to 74, people under age 75 with underlying health conditions, racial and ethnic minorities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and the developmentally and intellectually disabled. Another group that will be considered for inclusion in Phase 1b are uncompensated caregivers of adults age 75 and older.

The full advisory committee is set to meet Thursday to consider the allocation subcommittee’s recommendations.

SOME HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS that were temporarily suspended to limit the spread of COVID-19 are going to be allowed to resume soon.

Lamont said low-to-moderate risk youth sports, including basketball, ice hockey, indoor track, gymnastics and swimming can begin practices on Jan. 19 and competitions on Feb. 1. He said there will still be no out-of-state games or camps, or tournaments. Also, participants must wear masks.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Council’s Board of Control meets Thursday to discuss state Department of Public Health’s recommendations that include further delaying, canceling or restricting some high school sports, including indoor track, wrestling and competitive dance and cheer.

In November, Lamont announced a moratorium on all youth sports in the state until at least Jan. 19, including club sports.

INFECTIONS, HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS increased over the weekend again.

There were 7,364 new COVID-19 cases out of the 116,244 tests results that were received Friday through Sunday. The daily rate of positive tests Sunday was 6.3%.

Another 92 coronavirus-linked deaths were recorded over the weekend. This brought the death toll to 6,416 since last March.

Between new hospital admissions and discharges, there was a net increase of 33 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 1,142 statewide, including 350 in Hartford County, 294 in New Haven County and 281 in Fairfield County.

Locally, there have been 2,151 cases in Naugatuck since March, according to state figures. There have been 540 cases in Prospect and 334 in Beacon Falls.

There have been 72 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck, five in Beacon Falls and one in Prospect, according to state data.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.