Who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, and where can you get one in Connecticut?
With federal regulators having authorized COVID-19 booster shots for millions of Americans, officials at the state’s largest hospital systems say those doses will be available immediately.
Who is eligible for booster shots?
Booster shots are available for recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine who fall into one of the following groups:
- People 65 and older.
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
- Adults 18-64 with underlying health conditions.
- Adults who work jobs that leave them at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, including healthcare workers and teachers.
Booster shots may be administered at least six months after someone has received a second dose. In Connecticut, state officials say 430,000 people are at least six months removed from their second Pfizer-BioNTech dose.
People who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not able to receive booster shots.
Where are booster shots available?
Major hospital systems including Hartford HealthCare and Yale New Haven Health maintain public vaccine sites. Additionally, vaccine booster shots will be available at urgent care clinics, at some federally qualified health centers and at pharmacies including CVS and Walgreens, which have taken on a larger role in vaccine distribution as the year has progressed.
On Monday, CVS announced it would hire 25,000 clinical and retail workers nationwide, including about 470 in Connecticut, to respond to demand for COVID-19 testing and vaccines.
Connecticut residents can find vaccine sites at ct.gov/covidvaccine .
Will there be backlogs for appointments?
Deshpande said he anticipates some scarcity of booster shot appointments in the short-term but said he expects that will clear quickly.
“There’s a certain population that is going to be excited to get immediately, so there may be a little bit of an issue with availability for the first few days,” Deshpande said. “But I anticipate that’s going to smooth out pretty quickly as people find shots.”
Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer, said high levels of demand may make appointments difficult to come by at first but that those who want booster shots won’t have to wait long.
“Just be patient,” Geballe said. “We’ve got enough throughput in the system where everyone who’s eligible will be able to get a booster shot within the next week.”
How has third dose rollout gone so far?
In Connecticut and elsewhere, vaccine providers are more than a month into the process of administering third vaccine doses to people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Officials say uptake among that population has been slower than expected , with only a fraction of those eligible having sought their third dose so far.
Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer at Hartford HealthCare, said he doesn’t know whether the relative lack of interest from immunocompromised people will be translate to a broader swath of the public but that he hopes most eligible people will seek their third shot.
“We are hoping folks will come around. It’s still in the early stages right now,” Kumar said. “And I’m hoping that the booster will be widely accepted among the general public.”
In an attempt to increase booster shot uptake among the newly eligible groups, Hartford HealthCare officials say they will notify everyone who receives care from when they are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. For now, those doses will be available only by appointment, though that could change moving forward depending on demand.
Alex Putterman can be reached at email@example.com .