Thousands of Connecticut residents became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, as the state moved forward with its new rollout protocols this week.
Now, Chesprocott is ready to adapt in order to accommodate all comers.
On Feb. 22, the Connecticut Department of Health released new guidelines for the state’s future COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Eligibility will now be determined almost exclusively by age, and Maura Esposito and her team at Chesprocott are breaking down what the new rules will mean for Cheshire residents, and how they should go about scheduling their vaccination appointments when it’s their turn.
“As of today, there have been 1,585 community cases of COVID-19 in Cheshire since the pandemic began last March and 36 deaths,” Esposito explained. “Despite the numbers, it is good to see them start to head towards a downward trend. Our health district has administered over 3,800 vaccinations over the past two months and we are continuing to provide vaccines to school and daycare personnel in our three communities during the upcoming months.”
The new guidelines released by the state divide the vaccine phases, starting with those who are between the ages of 55 and 64 who were eligible to register for the vaccine via the VAMS website beginning on March 1. The VAMS system can only be accessed and utilized once the individual’s age demographic is eligible.
Those who are between the ages of 45 and 54 can register beginning on March 22; those between the ages of 35 and 44 can register starting on April 12; and those who are between the ages of 16 and 34 can register as of May 3. Teachers and daycare workers are also eligible to receive their shots as of now, according to the guidelines.
“The biggest thing I am asking of our residents right now is to be patient,” Eposito said. “We know you are all anxious and wanting to get the vaccine, but this is a process we all have to get through. I am making sure my three school districts are all situated with their teachers, Cheshire Academy, and Legions of Christ as well.”
Chesprocott has also performed their first homebound vaccination, which occurred in Wolcott. Esposito is planning on expanding the service into Cheshire for whomever it is deemed necessary.
“It’s important to note that this [homebound vaccination] is not for people whose caregivers or rides maybe are not available. This is for people who medically cannot leave their homes,” she clarified. “It went really well and we got the woman all vaccinated, which was great. We are going to roll this out in Cheshire as it’s needed.”
Esposito also noted that the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, which has been turned into a mass vaccination site, could be the best place for Cheshire residents to receive the vaccine.
“The Town has extended the time we can use the Town Pool, which is great, but people can start registering to get vaccinated at the Oakdale” she said. “They can vaccinate many more people at a time than we can.”
Currently, Connecticut ranks near the top in the nation for vaccine distribution, according to the state DPH website.
Esposito explained that Chesprocott has provided vaccinations for 1,500 school personnel and 500 daycare providers. Chesprocott covers three towns — Cheshire, Prospect, and Wolcott.
Chesprocott staff have been working to get the town’s residents vaccinated as quickly as possible by holding a variety of different clinics over the past months.
“Over 150 different volunteers have been assisting us and we get 25 new requests each week,” she said. “We have begun to hold the clinics at the Senior Center [as of] last week, and it’s a nice change from the pool clinic. We are trying to reach those that cannot access appointments and we are working with our local Senior Center partners, which has also been a nice change.”
Earlier in the pandemic, information was spread via social media that Chesprocott had possibly thrown away vaccines, which Esposito says is simply not true.
“We are absolutely not throwing away doses at all,” she confirmed. “But what we are seeing is a lot less of the vaccine than before. When we ordered them in the beginning, we were getting like 12 doses out of a bottle. Now we are getting much less.”
The biggest thing Esposito wants residents to know is that Chesprocott is available to all residents and can provide a lot of useful information.
“We are fielding thousands of calls a day and we are trying our best here to get everyone the help they need, but we strongly urge you to check our website before calling. It may answer your questions right away,” Esposito added.
To register for VAMS or learn where to get your COVID-19 vaccine, visit the Chesprocott website: http://www.chesprocott.org/