Connecticut is switching to an age-based approach for its COVID-19 vaccination rollout, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Feb. 22.

The change comes as the state was preparing to vaccinate essential workers—including educators, manufacturers, grocery store, and transportation workers—and those with underlying medical conditions.

However, educators and almost all those who work at schools, including bus drivers, are eligible for vaccinations beginning March 1, along with all residents and workers aged 55 to 64.

The state will then schedule subsequent vaccinations as follows:

  • Ages 45-54: March 22, 2021
  • Ages 35-44: April 12, 2021
  • Ages 16-34: May 3, 2021

In announcing the change, Lamont said any method of distributing shots other than aged-based "proved overly complex and confusing, would potentially exacerbate inequities in vaccine distribution, and slow down the process of providing it to Connecticut residents."

"My goal is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and I believe this is the best path to meeting that challenge," he said.

'Too Complicated'

There were too many variables with the system the state had in place, Lamont added.

While grocery store workers are considered essential workers, there were questions about whether convenience store and big-box store employees should also be eligible.

"The lens was too broad," Lamont said. "It was too ill-defined."

The experience of other states also influenced the change, Lamont said.

"It's leading to a great deal of confusion in other states, fewer people are getting vaccinated because they make it too complicated."

Lamont noted that age is one of the strongest factors in COVID-19 deaths, with 96% of fatal cases in Connecticut are people age 55 and older.

Speed

CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said that while essential employers had spent time and resources preparing for the vaccine rollout based on the initial guidance, he understood the need to pivot.

"We cannot rebuild our economy and recover from the pandemic without first addressing the public health crisis," he said.

"It's critical that we vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible."

CBIA's Chris DiPentima

"This new approach allows for more workers across Connecticut to get vaccinated in a shorter period of time, and it eliminates potentially complicated rules, making it easier and more equitable for everyone to receive their vaccination.

"It is critical that we vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible."

Vaccination Leader

Under the Lamont administration's initial phased vaccination plan, healthcare workers, first responders, and nursing home residents were vaccinated in Phase 1A.

Phase 1B began in tiers earlier in February, with those aged 75 and older eligible, followed by residents aged 65 to 74.

That phase also included essential workers and those with underlying health conditions, with vaccinations initially planned for mid-March,

Connecticut ranks among the top states for vaccinations, with first doses administered to 17% of the population as of Feb. 22. About 8% of the population has received a second dose.

The state Department of Public Health will set numerical targets and work with healthcare providers to ensure those in high risk communities are vaccinated.

"Sticking with an age-based vaccine rollout allows our vaccine providers to get as many shots as quickly and equitably as possible into the arms of Connecticut residents," acting state Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford said.