Eligible For COVID Vax? Hear What Newtown Officials Have To Say In Latest Video Message
The latest in The Newtown Bee's series of COVID-19 Clips welcomes First Selectman Dan Rosenthal and Health District Director Donna Culbert discussing the new eligibility guidelines for COVID-19 vaccines that went into effect at 12:01 am on March 1.
Culbert speaks about the need for residents to be patient — especially during the first few days of the new eligibility period — and for them to utilize all means possible to get scheduled, even if it may mean having to travel to a clinic some distance from town.
Watch the video below:
There is also some new and good news for veterans coming from Town Clerk and local Veterans Services liaison Debbie Halstead. Effective March 1, VA Connecticut will offer COVID-19 vaccine to enrolled patients regardless of age.
"Due to a steady supply and strong interest from our veterans, we feel confident in dropping the age restrictions to offer vaccine to any enrolled veteran interested in receiving it," said VA Connecticut director Al Montoya.
Depending on location, VA Connecticut patients will receive either the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. As of February 28, the healthcare system has vaccinated approximately 17,000 enrolled patients through a series of scheduled appointments and walk-in clinics.
Upcoming Walk-in Clinics are being help March 1 - March 5 from 12-4 pm at the West Haven Annex, 200 Edison Road/Pez Blvd in Orange; and March 1-2 from 12 - 3:30 pm at the Newington VA hospital campus, 555 Willard Avenue.
VA Connecticut will host a clinic for scheduled appointments on March 3 from 8 am - 3 pm at the East Putnam Fire District, 263 Providence Pike in Putnam. Enrolled patients will be contacted by VA to attend this clinic.
Veterans not contacted by VA who wish to schedule an appointment at the Putnam clinic can call 203-932-5711 ext. 5627.
Veterans (any age) must be enrolled for care with VA to receive the vaccine; availability is first come, first served; and mask and physical distancing will be required. To maintain physical distancing, if possible, the VA asks veterans to not bring anyone to the clinic.
Connecticut residents aged 55 and over are now eligible to schedule and receive their COVID-19 vaccination through one of more than 130 sites throughout the state.
In addition, public and private school teachers and other in-school staff, volunteers and bus drivers, and childcare professionals will be eligible to receive vaccine. Educators and childcare professionals will receive instructions from their school district, town or employer on how they will schedule their vaccination.
Newtown Human Services Director Natalie Jackson told The Newtown Bee that residents can call any Walgreens and then you go through their system to see where vaccines are available near you.
Stamford Hospital is scheduling via their website - CLICK HERE
Or residents can try Griffin Hospital, which continues scheduling for the Shelton site. That number is 203-433-3394.
More Infro From CTDPH
With more than 500,000 individuals in the 55+ population and another 160,000 educators and childcare workers, a weekly supply of around 130,000 doses of vaccine from the federal government, and individuals who remain eligible from previous phases also scheduling appointments, the State anticipates that demand for the vaccine will far outweigh the supply as this new group opens Monday.
Newly eligible residents are urged to be patient and recognize most will not be able to schedule their appointment first thing Monday morning due to limited vaccine supply.
“We anticipate that our online scheduling systems and the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line will be inundated tomorrow and for the next several days with people eager to make their vaccine appointments. It’s a good problem to have, and we have increased our capacity to better handle the anticipated surge in volume, but it will still require people to be patient when signing up,” said Acting Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford.
“To ease the burden on the online and phone systems, we urge residents 55 and older to consider waiting a few days before seeking an appointment if they are able to do so. New appointments will become available each week and this will help reduce stress on the system in the early days of the roll out. We are all in this together, and we need to work together in order to get out of this pandemic as quickly as possible,” Gifford said.
There are numerous vaccine providers who offer online and telephonic scheduling and eligible residents 55+ have many options for scheduling their vaccine appointments. A complete list of the various scheduling options located closest to you is available at ct.gov/covidvaccine.
In response to the anticipated spike in demand for vaccine appointments, the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line (877-918-2224), run by United Way of Connecticut/211, has increased the capacity of the phone system and the number of staff answering calls. According to a DPH release, 300 staff will be answering calls on March 1.
The system is able to manage 1,050 calls at any one time. If that number is exceeded, callers should hear a fast busy signal to indicate that they will need to try again later.
The Vaccine Appointment Assist Line staff anticipate being able to speak with 10,000 callers per day and once that capacity is reached, callers will hear a recorded message telling them to call back the next day.
When using the online VAMS scheduling system, people are reminded that they must first submit a form requesting access to the scheduling system. After that form is submitted, they will receive an email with instructions on accessing the scheduling system. This email is not automatic and can take several hours to a day to send.
The form to access the VAMS system is now available to all eligible residents by CLICKING HERE.