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Booster Shots For Everyone

Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at a press conference at Rockville General Hospital. Photo credit: Hugh McQuaid, CTNewsJunkie

Gov. Ned Lamont is urging anyone who completed their COVID-19 vaccination series at least six months ago (and anyone who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago) to obtain a booster shot.

Vaccination rates as of Nov. 17, 2021. CT.gov

By Hugh McQuaid,CTNewsJunkie.com

West Hartford-specific information provided by Ronni Newton, we-ha.com

Gov. Ned Lamont and Connecticut’s public health commissioner sought Thursday to clarify what they called confusing guidance from federal regulators and urged adults to get a COVID-19 booster shot if they were vaccinated more than six months ago.

During a morning press conference outside Rockville General Hospital in Vernon, Lamont and Dr. Manisha Juthani, commissioner of public health, stressed that the vaccine’s effectiveness wanes over time.

“From my point of view, if you were vaccinated more than six months ago, you’re not fully vaccinated,” Lamont said. “If you were vaccinated more than six months ago, now is the time to go get that booster. I urge you to get it now.”

The recommendation splits from the current guidelines of federal regulators and mirrors steps taken by other states in the region including Rhode Island earlier this week and Massachusetts on Thursday morning.

Although a Food and Drug Administration panel is expected to meet later this week to discuss expanding eligibility, current federal guidelines limit who is technically eligible to receive a booster shot.

At the moment, the Centers for Disease Control suggests supplemental vaccine doses for anyone 65 or older who received their second Pfizer or Moderna shot more than six months ago and anyone who received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot more than two months ago. The guidelines also make eligible a large population including anyone more than six months since their last shot who has certain high risk medical conditions or works in certain jobs or lives in a congregate setting.

On Thursday, the governor deemed those guidelines over-complicated.

“CDC speaks Latin. I can’t figure out who’s eligible, who’s not eligible. If you smoked while you were in high school, back in the 1970s you’re eligible,” Lamont said. “I think if you haven’t been vaccinated in more than six months, now’s the time to get the booster.”

Lamont urged Connecticut providers to administer booster shots to any adult seeking one, regardless of the federal guidelines. So far about 454,000 people in Connecticut have received booster shots, according to the CDC. That’s about 17.8% of the residents who are fully-vaccinated.

The push to encourage booster shot uptake comes ahead of expected COVID transmission during the holidays and amid elevated cases in Connecticut and elsewhere. While metrics have fluctuated somewhat over the past week, overall the positivity rate has been on the rise. On Wednesday, Connecticut’s infection rate stood at 3.38% after jumping as high as 4.31% on Tuesday. Thursday’s positivity rate was lower, 2.55%.

Hospitalizations have also increased, and although they dropped by six to 241 on Thursday (from 247 on Wednesday), they had dipped below 200 earlier this month.

Dr. Manisha Juthani, commissioner of public health. Photo credit: Hugh McQuaid, CTNewsJunkie

Although patients hospitalized with the virus have been predominantly unvaccinated people, around 72% as of Thursday, the state continues to see breakthrough cases of COVID-19 and had recorded 21,071 as of Thursday’s update. Public health officials said declining vaccine immunity contributes to the breakthrough cases.

“If you got vaccinated seven, eight, nine, 10 months ago like I did since I was first vaccinated in December and January, your immunity is most certainly waning,” Juthani said. “We have an opportunity to get people boosted here in Connecticut to fight this next wave that is coming.”

Juthani challenged long term care facilities to hold booster clinics before Dec. 15 to provide booster shots to both patients and staff whose immunity have waned since they were initially vaccinated. Lamont agreed.

“It’s absolutely something we gotta do. We gotta get those booster clinics right at the nursing homes. They’re taking care of the most fragile people. They were the first ones vaccinated now going back 11 months in some cases,” Lamont said.

In West Hartford, 85.21% of the overall population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine according to data released on Thursday.

While children ages 5-11 have recently become eligible for vaccination, a town-by-town breakdown has not yet been released. Statewide, 13% of the youngest age group have received their first dose.

Among West Hartford residents ages 12-17, 93.83% have initiated vaccination and 87.96% are fully vaccinated as of Thursday. For those 18-24, 90.67% have received at least on dose and 82.38% are fully vaccinated; for the 25- to 44-year-old age group, 93.01 have received at least one shot and 86.35% are fully vaccinated; and for 45-64, 91.18% have received at least one dose and 86.32% are fully vaccinated. According to the state’s report, 100% of West Hartford residents over age 65 have received at least one dose, and 99.96% are fully vaccinated.

Information about where to obtain a vaccine can be found on the state’s website.

In West Hartford, a walk-in clinic for booster shots will be held Friday, Nov. 19 at Conard High School, from 3-6 p.m.

The number of towns in the red zone alert level, with the greatest daily rate of new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 of population, increased from 31 last week to 67 this week. Although West Hartford remains in the yellow alert zone, with a rate per 100,000 of 7.4, that rate has increased from 6.0 a week earlier.

CT.gov

Republished with permission from CTNewsJunkie.com, all rights reserved.

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