Eligibility and Scheduling

Q: When will I be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut? 

A: Connecticut residents and workers currently eligible for vaccinations include healthcare workers, medical first responders, long-term care facility residents, residents and staff of select congregate settings, and individuals aged 65 and older.

Beginning March 1, 2021, pre-K-12 teachers, paraprofessionals, custodial staff, food service providers, school bus drivers, childcare providers, in-school administrative staff, and individuals aged 55 to 64 years older are eligible to schedule vaccinations, with subsequent scheduling as follows:

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

The state estimate that it will take three weeks for members of each age group to receive their first doses of the vaccine. The state's vaccine rollout schedule is contingent on the supply of vaccine from the federal government can supply, although officials believe supply will increase in the coming weeks.

Q: How do I schedule a vaccination?

Eligible residents and workers can make an appointment using the state's online system, which includes vaccine sites across Connecticut.

Residents can also call the state’s central hotline (877.918.2224) between 8 am-8 pm daily and make an appointment at a number of sites across the state, including the mass vaccination site at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field.

Q: I was supposed to be in Phase 1b, but now I’m not. What happened?

A: Eligibility for the vaccine will continue to follow an age-based schedule, based on the Lamont administration's Feb. 22 announcement that the state will no longer follow the initially planned phased rollout.

Beginning March 1, the next age group eligible for vaccination are Connecticut residents 55 to 64 years old, as well as all preschool through 12th-grade educators and staff, and child care workers living or working in Connecticut.

Individuals who were eligible under Phase 1a or as residents/staff of congregate settings remain eligible and can still schedule their vaccination appointments.

Q: I have a comorbidity and I'm not 55, can I still get vaccinated?

A: If you are not a resident aged 55 or older and are not an eligible education or child care worker, you will be able to receive the vaccine when your age group becomes eligible.

If you are under the age of 55 but were eligible for vaccine as part of Phase 1a or because you are a resident or staff in an eligible congregate setting, you are still eligible and can schedule your vaccination appointment.

Q: Are only teachers eligible in the next vaccination group?

All pre-K through 12th-grade educators and staff who work onsite with students are eligible to start scheduling and receiving the vaccine beginning Mar. 1. This includes:

  • Teachers, paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, and in-class volunteers
  • Custodial staff, food services workers, and school bus drivers
  • School resource officers and contracted social services and mental health professionals who work with students in schools
  • Before- and after-school program staff
  • Coaches
  • In-school administrative staff
  • Childcare professionals
  • Boards of education members, adult education, higher education, and staff not working in schools are not eligible unless they meet the appropriate age-band

For more information, see the state's Vaccine Eligibility for Education and Childcare Professionals and Staff.

Q: Can I get the vaccine if I live outside Connecticut? What if I work in Connecticut, but don't live in Connecticut?

A: You are eligible to receive vaccine in Connecticut if you live or work in Connecticut.

If you live outside Connecticut, but work here, you must provide proof of your employment in Connecticut in order to receive your vaccination here.

If you neither live nor work in Connecticut, you are not eligible to receive the vaccine in Connecticut, even if your primary medical provider is in Connecticut.

If you do not live or work in Connecticut, you should be vaccinated in your state of residence when you are eligible based on their requirements. 

Q: As an employer, I designated an employer coordinator to manage employee vaccinations. Is that still necessary?

A: Since we are going forward with an age-based vaccination schedule, you are no longer required to upload rosters of your employees.

Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?

A: No. The state of Connecticut is not mandating vaccination.

Safety and Efficacy

Q: How do vaccines help?

A: By readying the immune system for future health battles, vaccines protect individuals around the world from dangerous diseases. 

Q: How is everyone moving so quickly to develop a vaccine for COVID-19?

A: Researchers are moving fast to develop vaccines to combat COVID-19. In the past, it would take years to bring a new vaccine through all the regulatory hurdles established by the Food and Drug Administration and to approval.

Q: How much will I have to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine?

A: The federal government has taken steps to deliver a future vaccine for COVID-19 at no cost to individuals and families during the pandemic.

This is the way vaccines have been made available to the public in previous health emergencies.

Q: How will we know a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective?

A: With vaccine development moving so quickly, it is easy to understand why some people are asking whether a vaccine for COVID-19 will be safe and effective. But it is important to remember the very strict scientific and regulatory process vaccine developers must follow to bring a new product to patients, even during the current pandemic.

The independent experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not approve a vaccine unless there is data to show the vaccine is:

  • Safe for use following a series of random, placebo-based clinical trials of thousands of people;
  • Shown to be effective at preventing the disease; and
  • Proven to be produced or manufactured consistently, safely and at a high quality.

In addition to the FDA’s own rigorous rules and safeguards, there are other layers of oversight to ensure that there is a constant focus on patient safety at every step of the development, approval, and distribution process.

The simple answer is, yes. All vaccines—even those developed in response to a pandemic like COVID-19—must follow the Food and Drug Administration’s strict scientific and regulatory requirements.

Q: What are the possible side effects of the vaccine?

A: As with any injection, you can expect some pain or itching at the injection site.

Based on interim data, side effects may include fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, joint pain, and/or fever in some patients.

More severe side effects were reported in fewer than 2% of the study participants, but may be increased with the second dose. British health officials advised people with a “significant history of allergic reactions” not to get the Pfizer vaccine after two healthcare workers experienced a reaction after getting the injection.

Q: Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant?

A: Awaiting emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. There is currently insufficient data to make conclusions about the safety of the vaccine in pregnant patients.

Q: Should I get the vaccine if I am immunocompromised?

A: Awaiting Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. There is currently insufficient data to make conclusions about the safety of the vaccine in immunocompromised patient populations.

Q: Can I get the vaccine if I am feeling ill? Do I need to feel 100% well to receive the vaccine?

A: As with all vaccines, it is recommended that you do not receive the COVID-19 vaccine if you are feeling ill.

Getting Vaccinated

Q: How does the vaccine work?

A: The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are different from more traditional vaccines, which often use a weakened or dead version of a virus, or a laboratory-generated protein, to trigger an immune response.

The COVID-19 vaccines instead use a snippet of the virus’s genetic code to teach the immune system to recognize and fight the coronavirus. This is called a messenger-RNA (mRNA) vaccine.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, made by Belgian firm Janssen and approved for emergency use by the FDA Feb. 27, 2021, is manufactured using a specific type of virus called adenovirus type 26 (Ad26).

The vaccine uses Ad26 to deliver a piece of the DNA, or genetic material, that is used to make the distinctive spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

A vaccinated person’s immune system notices these foreign proteins and makes antibodies that will protect the person if they are ever exposed to the coronavirus in the future.

Q: Do I need to receive more than one vaccination?

A: Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses. Pfizer’s booster shot will be given 21 days after the first one while Moderna’s is spaced 28 days later.

Because different COVID-19 vaccine products will not be interchangeable, your second dose must be from the same manufacturer as your first dose.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose only.

Q: Do I need to receive my second dose exactly 21 or 28 days from the first dose?

A: No. The number of days between the two doses is the recommended minimal interval between the two. Your second dose will be scheduled as close as possible to the second date once the full minimal interval has passed.

Q: What if I miss my second dose?

A: It is strongly recommended that you receive the second dose, otherwise the vaccination series will be incomplete and you may not be fully protected.

Q: Do I get to choose which vaccine brand I want to receive? 

A: In general, given scarce supply, only one vaccine may be available through your provider. You can talk with your medical provider if you have specific questions or concerns that may lead you to want to seek out one specific COVID-19 vaccine versus another.  

Q: Can I choose the vaccine that says it’s the most effective?

A: Getting the vaccine, regardless of the brand, will protect you from severe illness, hospitalization and the risk of death from COVID-19.

Q: What happens if I get COVID-19 between vaccine doses?

A: You would still need to self-isolate per current guidelines. A decision by the infection prevention team will be made in regard to receipt of the second dose of the vaccine.

To stay safe between vaccines, and even after you receive the full dose, you are urged to continue practicing physical distancing, wear a mask indoors at all times except at home, and wash your hands frequently until further notice.

Q: Do I need the vaccine if I have already had COVID-19 and recovered?

A: Yes, you should still receive the vaccine. Experts continue to study antibodies that develop in response to COVID-19.

If these antibodies are protective, it’s not known what antibody levels are needed to protect against reinfection.

Therefore, even those who previously had COVID-19 can and should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: Can I get COVID-19 from receiving the vaccine?

A: No. The vaccine does not contain live or dead virus, so it cannot infect you with COVID-19.

Q: Will I be contagious after receiving the vaccine?

A: The COVID-19 vaccines are not live vaccines, therefore will not make you contagious. You should, however, continue to wear a mask indoors at all times except at home and practice physical distancing even after you have received both doses of the vaccine.

Q: What should I do if I am offered the opportunity to receive the vaccine while I am in quarantine?

A: To protect others, you must wait to get vaccinated until you have completed your quarantine.

Q: Does the flu vaccine protect you from getting COVID-19?

A: No. The coronavirus and the influenza virus are different. The flu vaccine does not protect you from becoming infected with the coronavirus, so you should get the COVID-19 vaccine in addition to the flu vaccine.

A recent study suggested that people who received the flu vaccine faced a lower risk for being hospitalized if they got COVID-19.

Q: What is herd immunity?

A: When enough people are vaccinated, vaccines can also protect communities from diseases through herd immunity. Herd immunity—also known as community immunity—is achieved when enough people in a given area develop immunity to a disease thereby making further spread unlikely.