CONNECTICUT — Connecticut began its mass vaccination program Tuesday starting with frontline health care workers and expanded to nursing homes on Friday. All states including Connecticut will receive fewer Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses than anticipated.
The reduction will likely move Connecticut’s vaccine timeline back by about a week, state COO Josh Geballe said at a news conference.
Connecticut was anticipating 98,000 vaccine doses next week between Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine candidate, but that number has been reduced to 86,000. Moderna’s vaccine obtained emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday.
“All of the difference comes out of the Pfizer vaccine allocation, which seems to be a result of some miscommunication between Operation Warp Speed and Pfizer,” Geballe said. “So nonetheless it’s a big number of vaccines coming next week, it’ll keep the teams very busy continuing to ramp up our vaccination efforts.”
Pfizer recently announced that its five-dose vials may actually contain six doses per vial, which partially mitigates the drop in available doses.
“It’s going to be very fluid in the coming weeks… we are getting more information from the feds all the time, so these numbers will move around in the coming weeks,” Geballe said.
Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at ultracold temperatures, which makes distribution more difficult. Several hospitals in Connecticut have obtained large ultracold freezers. The vaccine can be stored at regular hospital refrigeration temperatures for up to five days.
Moderna’s vaccine can be stored at regular home or medical freezer temperatures for up to six months and at refrigeration temperatures for up to 30 days. It also doesn’t need to be diluted onsite, which makes it easier to administer.
Moderna’s vaccine will allow federally-qualified health centers and local health departments to become vaccination sites for phase 1a, Geballe said.
Connecticut vaccine phases
Connecticut residents who are in phase 1a (Very first vaccine phase)
There are 204,000 health care workers, 22,000 nursing home residents and 6,000 medical first responders that fall into the state's first vaccine priority group. Those numbers assume 80 percent of people in those categories get the vaccine.
Connecticut residents who are in phase 1b (tentative mid-January to late May)
Critical workforce such as first responders, teachers and others who aren’t able to work remotely.
People in other congregate settings such as prisons.
Adults over the age of 65.
High risk people under the age of 65.
Connecticut residents who are in phase 2 (tentative June)
Those under the age of 18.
People will have a choice of vaccine candidates assuming there is availability, Eadie said. However, they will have to stick with the same vaccine candidate after they get their first dose.