State Rolls Out COVID-19 Vaccine; Questions Remain for Employers

HR & Safety

Connecticut received 31,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first week of distribution and expects to receive 100,000 doses in week two.

“Half goes to healthcare personnel and the other half goes to long term facilities to enable vaccination of both staff and residents,” Benjamin Bechtolsheim, COVID 19 vaccination program director for the state Department of Public Health, said during a Dec. 15 webinar.

“We’re working very quickly to try to gain access for those populations.”

Per a state priority list, healthcare personnel, long term care facility residents, and medical first responders are the first to receive vaccines in Connecticut, known as the Phase 1A group.

The Phase 1B group includes critical workers, people in other congregate settings, adults over 65, and high-risk individuals under 65.

Phase 1B Undefined

However, the state has yet to fully define what industries will be included in the Phase 1B group.

And while a business may be included in the Phase 1B group, it does not mean that every employee at that company is necessarily a critical worker.

Those in that group are expected to receive the vaccine between late January and May.

Employers and organizations with critical workers should register now with the state.

Each company must have an employer coordinator who can identify critical workers and other at-risk groups who have higher priority for getting vaccinated.

The employer coordinator is responsible for uploading the workforce roster onto the state’s enrollment site.

Phase 2

Independent contractors can also register the same way until the state creates a simpler form for them, Bechtolsheim said.

Phase 2 includes people under 18, and the remaining people over 18. They are expected to be vaccinated between June and December 2021.

The 100,000 doses Connecticut expects in week two includes doses from Moderna, assuming its vaccine is approved. The initial 31,000 doses came from Pfizer.

About half of those 100,000 doses will go to long term care facilities and hospitals, about half to local health departments and federally qualified health centers, and some potentially to pharmacies, Bechtolsheim said.

The state is working with a broad range of clinics throughout the state to have a strong distribution network available, he said.

Skilled nursing facilities will work with CVS and Walgreens through a partnership with the federal government to get the vaccine administered on site, he said.

Broader Distribution

Then distribution will start in a broader range of assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, intermediate care facilities for adults with developmental disabilities, veterans homes, and HUD 202 program housing, Bechtolsheim said.

By week three, state officials expect to receive between 40,000 and 60,000 doses then see doses “continue to decrease or flatten into January,” Bechtolsheim said.

Dr. Marwan Haddad expressed concern for essential healthcare workers who are not formally employed by hospitals or other large employers.

“I don’t want them to become second tier,” he said.

Deidre Gifford, the acting health commissioner, said the state is working on that but is still in the early stages of distribution.

“We have heard you and are taking actions to address your concern,” she said.

‘Rapid Access’

Dr. Khuram Ghumman asked about plans to disseminate the vaccine when large doses arrive at one time.

“We have a goal of having every dose that arrives administered as quickly as possible,” said Bechtolsheim, who called the effort “an incredible lift for our healthcare system.”

“Our goal is to have no waste and rapid access for everyone who’s eligible.”

The health department plans to hold another webinar Dec. 21 to address other issues, including how smaller medical facilities will receive the vaccine.


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