State Rep. Harry Arora: Vaccine Strategy : Prioritizing seniors can save 200,000 lives

Posted on January 4, 2021

Dear friends and neighbors,

Happy New Year. Thanks to all of you who joined the conversation last week with CT COO Josh Gaballe focused on the prioritization and distribution of the COVID vaccine. Here are the important takeaways:

Vaccine administration process for those eligible NOW

CT has started COVID vaccinations under Phase 1a, which covers healthcare workers, long term care residents & staff, and first responders. HERE is a detailed description of who is eligible. Those eligible under Phase 1a will first need to be entered into the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) by their employer. Please contact your employer for information. If you are an employer or are self-employed and are eligible but have not heard from the DPH, please click HERE for details on how to get yourself and your employees in the VAMS system. Once you are in VAMS, you will receive an email with instructions about where you can get the vaccine and how to make an appointment.

Progress update under Phase 1a

As of Dec 30th, CT has received 119,000 doses, of which 55,000 or 47% have been administered. While we are ahead of other states, we still have to speed up. As per Commissioner Geballe, we are at a run rate of 7,000 vaccinations per day. At this rate, it will take most of January to vaccinate the approximately 300,000 people who are eligible under Phase 1a.

Priority for senior citizens in current and future phases

The groups which will be eligible in future phases have not been decided. I pressed the Commissioner on the need to prioritize seniors in January. HERE is my Op-ed on how prioritizing the elderly across the country by allocating 90% of all vaccines to seniors can save 200,000 lives. I am advocating with Gov Lamont that our Connecticut seniors, especially those who are working, be offered the vaccination immediately. As mentioned in my Op-Ed, experts, including former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, agree that this is the best way forward to save lives. Other states like Texas and Florida have already started vaccinating their seniors. If you would like to help me in advocating on this issue, please email me.

The vaccine is voluntary, no mandate is being considered

COO Geballe confirmed that this vaccine is voluntary, and no mandate is being considered. Data from my survey shows that 70% of residents in our community are eagerly waiting for the vaccine, 20% are considering taking it, and there are 10% who would not want to take it.

HERE is a link to excerpts from my Zoom conversation with COO Josh Geballe where we address vaccine logistics, priority, mandates, and more. On a separate note, the US Congress passed a second stimulus bill last week, which was signed into law by the President. I will be sending a detailed email and holding a Zoom to provide information and assistance about new economic assistance programs available to those who have been impacted by COVID.