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People in CT are struggling to get a COVID-19 booster. So is the state's top public health official

Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani listens during a panel with Rep. Rosa DeLauro, CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen, and other officials during at the Fair Haven Community Health Center in New Haven on October 5, 2023.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani listens during a panel with Rep. Rosa DeLauro, CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen, and other officials during at the Fair Haven Community Health Center in New Haven on October 5, 2023.

Connecticut’s top public health official said Thursday even she has encountered stumbling blocks getting the latest COVID-19 booster shot.

Distribution delays across the country have complicated efforts to get people vaccinated as pharmacies book appointments only to quickly cancel them.

“I had the same experience. I made an appointment. It was canceled,” said Dr. Manisha Juthani, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health. “I then actually walked into a pharmacy and said, ‘Do you have appointments for tomorrow by chance?’ And they said, ‘Yes.’ And I made an appointment.”

Speaking on Connecticut Public’s “Where We Live,” Juthani said plenty of vaccines are available, but that logjams at distribution centers have slowed down the rollout of the shot.

The delays and cancellations should ease up in the coming weeks, Juthani said. But she urged people to keep their appointments and re-book, if needed, until they can get the shot.

“Just stay with it,” Juthani said. “I appreciate you are trying to do the right thing and get vaccinated. We all are just going to have to keep doing that, unfortunately.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people six months and older get the updated vaccine.

Statewide, Juthani said COVID-19 cases have currently leveled off. About 200 people are hospitalized with the virus, she said.

“In the height of the omicron wave, we had over 1,900 people in the hospital with COVID,” she said. “So, we are in very, very, manageable tolerable levels.”

But she says people shouldn’t let their guard down.

Juthani expects respiratory illnesses to increase during the winter and is urging people across the state to get vaccinated now against not just COVID-19, but also flu, and if needed, RSV.

“As the days get shorter, as the days get colder, this is when respiratory viruses circulate at their peak. And the month of October is the time when usually these viruses start circulating more and more,” she said. “This is the time to get your flu shot, to get your COVID shot.”

Connecticut Public's Catherine Shen and Katie Pellico contributed to this report.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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