The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Connecticut

Posted on 04/13/21 by Emily Paulin

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • People 16 and older who live, work or attend school in Connecticut
  • Priority access will be given to people with an intellectual or developmental disability, sickle cell disease, end-stage renal disease on dialysis, a solid organ transplant, Down syndrome, or who are undergoing active cancer treatment
  • All patients of Connecticut Children's and Yale New Haven Children's Hospital will also be given priority
  • Connecticut has paused distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of a type of blood clot that has developed in some women after vaccination. The federal government has called the reaction “extremely rare” but “serious.” If you have an appointment for the J&J vaccine, your provider or state or local health department may honor it with a different vaccine or may reach out to reschedule for a different vaccine. You can also contact your provider or health department for more information.
A health care worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at <br>the Hartford Convention Center.

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Your medical provider. Some health care providers registered in the state’s vaccination program are contacting adults who qualify for a vaccination due to their age to schedule an appointment. If you’ve been contacted, work with that provider to ensure you get an appointment scheduled.
  • Mass vaccination clinics can also be found via the state’s COVID-19 vaccination scheduling options page. Depending on who is running the clinic, you may be required to register directly with the clinic provider or with the state VMA.
  • Retail pharmacy chains, including Big Y, CVS (and some of its Target-based pharmacies), Rite Aid, Shop Rite, Walgreens and Walmart, have their own online scheduling systems, where you can search for appointments across their multiple vaccination sites.
  • Through your employer or living facility. Most residents who are prioritized for a vaccination because of their job, such as health care workers, or because of where they live, such as a nursing home, are being vaccinated through their workplaces or the facilities where they reside. Check with your employer or residence before scheduling a vaccination appointment.
  • Through your veterans Affairs (VA) health facility. Veterans who receive care from VA health facilities are eligible for vaccinations through the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. Caregivers enrolled in the Caregiver Support Program may be eligible, too. Call 203-932-5711, ext. 7784, 5627 or 7754, to schedule an appointment. More information available here. 
  • Mobile vaccination units. On March 29, Connecticut opened the country’s first federally backed Mobile Vaccination Unit at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport. The MVU is travelling through Connecticut for 60 days, administering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to high-risk and vulnerable populations in 17 communities. Municipal and community partners are coordinating outreach and assisting with appointment scheduling.
  • Call the state’s COVID vaccine appointment line at 877-918-2224 for help scheduling an appointment. The line is taking calls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET every day and offers a callback option when all specialists are busy.
  • Vaccine supplies remain limited in many areas. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be hard to get, as available time slots may be booked quickly, and you might be put on a waiting list. You can sign up at multiple sites to increase your chances of getting an appointment, but once you have confirmed a slot at one site, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule with any other provider so that those slots stay open for others. 

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.

If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment. 

How are residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities getting vaccinated?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Connecticut are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines via free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete. 

To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities. 

Which vaccines require a second shot? 

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider saying when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.  

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Moderna vaccine is authorized for those 18 and older. 

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot, though distribution of that vaccine has been paused. 

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?  

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

What should I do with my vaccine card? 

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy. 

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?   

Yes. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC still recommends taking precautions while in public — including wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of the vaccines against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus. 

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, the CDC says. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of them are at a high risk for severe COVID-19.

 Helpful Resources

  • Vaccine Administration Management System User Manual. The state has created an in-depth user manual for vaccine recipients trying to navigate the VAMS. Learn how to create and activate an account, schedule a vaccination appointment, cancel or reschedule an appointment, or get extra help.
  • Transportation Resources to Help You Get to Your COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments. The Southwestern, North Central and Eastern Agencies on Aging have created lists of public and private transportation options in their regions.
  • Q&A with Dr. Lisa Cuchara: AARP CT State Director Nora Duncan and Quinnipiac University's Lisa Cuchara, a biomedical sciences professor, help you cut through the confusion in with a video-based Q&A.  

  • How to Detect COVID-19 Scams. AARP Connecticut has created a one-page flyer that outlines how common COVID-19 scams work and how you can detect them.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution in Connecticut. The Connecticut Department of Public Health has launched a website featuring the state's COVID-19 vaccine-related data. Explore vaccination rates by age group, race/ethnicity, sex, county, Social Vulnerability Index and more.

This guide, originally published Jan. 21, was updated April 13 with new information on pausing the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. 

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Also of Interest 

This story is provided by AARP Connecticut. Visit the AARP Connecticut page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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