About 100,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations were expected to be made on Thursday, the first day that anyone 16 years and older was allowed in Connecticut to sign up to get a shot.
The move to allow all adults in the state to make appointments comes as Connecticut ranked during the past week among the top 10 states for new cases per capita, Gov. Ned Lamont noted. But he stressed that Connecticut, which has a high testing rate compared to other states, was not among the top 10 for COVID-associated deaths per capita during the past week.
“It's just a reminder, I think, that vaccinating folks that are most at risk, vaccinating those who are most likely to suffer complications or death, made a big difference,” the Democrat said. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased in Connecticut by 418.7, an increase of 51.7%, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins.
As of Thursday, the number of confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 had climbed by more than 1,500 since Wednesday, while the number of COVID-associated deaths increased by 14, to 7,900. The number of hospitalizations declined since Wednesday by 21, to a total of 492.
Lamont said the state has a “good supply of vaccine” that's continuing to arrive from the federal government, despite news that a batch of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine failed quality standards and can’t be used.
“Maybe you've heard some questions about the J&J vaccine. Our supply for this week has arrived. Our supply for next week is on schedule,” said Lamont, who appeared at a Hartford child care center to highlight the child care funds the state is receiving from the federal American Rescue Plan.
“It may take a little bit of patience. I know there are a lot of people ready to get vaccinated, but 100,000 appointments today,” he said. Lamont said there may be a slowdown in a couple weeks of the amount of J&J vaccine coming to Connecticut. His administration announced late Thursday it estimates the state's vaccine supply will exceed demand by late April.
As of Thursday, 81% of people over age 65 in Connecticut had received their first dose, while 65% of people over 45 and 43% of people over age 16 received a first dose. Nearly 734,000 state residents have been fully vaccinated.
In other coronavirus-related news:
A top Pfizer executive said Thursday the pharmaceutical company is studying the effects of booster shots and whether they should be administered six or 12 months after a patient receives the first two doses of the company's vaccine.
"What we know today is that we have a highly effective vaccine that is safe, that the duration of protection, as we know it, is to six months today," said Angela Hwang, the group president of the Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group.
Given the COVID-19 variants that have become prevalent around the world, Hwang said, “the need to boost is in our reality. And so it’ll just be a matter of figuring out at which time interval is that.”
As of Thursday, eight different variants have been identified in Connecticut. The largest number of cases, 469, stem from the variant first detected in the U.K.
Hwang, a Connecticut resident, credited Pfizer's research and development operation in Groton with playing a “really pivotal role” in the manufacturing of the company's vaccine. The Groton site has been involved in the manufacturing of lipids, or organic compounds that are fatty acids.
“These lipids, which are used to make the vaccine, were made in Groton, and the lipids that were made in Groton have contributed to over 100 million doses of the vaccine,” she said.