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Health

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Approval Could Mean 30,000 New Doses For Connecticut

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Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at a news conference on COVID-19 vaccination for teachers.

Connecticut’s vaccine supply is about to get a big boost with the arrival of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The federal Food and Drug Administration could approve the new vaccine for emergency use as soon as Friday. And if it does, Gov. Ned Lamont says the state will get 30,000 doses next week. “We had anticipated that we were going to be getting J&J vaccines sometime in March,” he said at a news conference Thursday. “I didn’t know we were going to be getting it this fast, and I didn’t know we were going to be getting 30,000, so this is all positive news.”

Keith Grant, Hartford HealthCare’s senior system director of infection prevention, recommends taking the Johnson & Johnson shot.

“[What] individuals should really focus on is the efficacy of all the vaccines that are out to prevent the mortality that we’re very concerned about -- and preventing critical illness,” he said.

Johnson & Johnson has touted its vaccine as 85% effective against severe disease.

Last month, the state got about 45,000 shots a week, but that number has  grown to 100,000. And next week -- if Johnson & Johnson is approved for emergency use -- it’ll have a lot more.

School districts ready educator shots

Meanwhile, now that teachers can sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine starting next week, districts around the state are gearing up.

In Waterbury, officials say there will be a hotline for the city’s 4,000 teachers to set up appointments. A local magnet school will also host a vaccine clinic for teachers.

Waterbury Superintendent Verna Ruffin welcomed the new system, which puts teachers at the front of the line for the shots. She said it’ll get kids back into the classroom.

“We see our most vulnerable students in elementary schools that really need to see their teacher and be able to learn phonics ... and learn reading skills that are essential, and that cannot always be done effectively with our virtual learning,” she said.

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Credit Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public
Verna D. Ruffin, superintendent of Waterbury Public Schools, speaks at a news conference in the city on COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers.

The state’s decision to move to a mostly age-based rollout is facing criticism -- mainly from groups who would have been next, like grocery store workers or people with comorbidities.

But at Lamont’s news conference, Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary backed the change.

“As difficult as the decisions have been, these are the appropriate decisions in fact, especially for our children,” he said.

The city says at least 90% of teachers surveyed want the vaccine; it won’t force the remaining population to get inoculated.

With spring in the air -- and more people getting vaccinated -- Lamont is bullish on the state beating COVID-19.

“Vaccines are going to make this be something in our rearview mirror very soon,” he said. 

Connecticut’s COVID-19 positivity rate stood at 2.1% on Thursday. There was a slight decrease in reported hospitalizations, and 19 new deaths were reported.

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