Marpe’s Vaccine Update: Patience, Persistence Needed

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

The state of Connecticut is scheduling and vaccinating people 75 and older as part of the vaccine rollout Phase 1b.

People ages 65 to 74 are next in line for eligibility. Information will be posted on the Westport Weston Health District website when the state opens up clinics to this group. More information for frontline essential workers and individuals with underlying medical conditions with increased risk for severe illness will be forthcoming.

Many Westporters are eager to get vaccines. Some have registered themselves into the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS), scheduled their appointments and have received first and, in some cases, second vaccine doses.

Others have found technical challenges, a lack of information and guidance, or difficulties getting their first or second doses scheduled. Currently, vaccination dates are not being scheduled sooner than 3 weeks out. The process is moving slowly. Frustrations are high.

Additionally, the supply of vaccines is not keeping up with the demand. A total of 1.3 million Connecticut residents are eligible for the vaccine during Phase 1b. The state must ration the 46,000 doses it receives each week. At this rate, it will take months before all eligible residents are vaccinated. There is a national vaccine shortage, and it impacts us locally.

The WWHD staff have consistently ordered more vaccines than it they receive. The WWHD runs up to 3 vaccine clinics per week at the WWHD on Bayberry Lane, and the Westport, Weston and Easton Senior Centers.

With a limited supply of vaccines, the WWHD advises eligible Westporters not to wait for an appointment at a Westport clinic. Rather, go to the first available appointment and plan to schedule your second vaccine immediately after. The state’s 211 line now includes a public vaccine clinic directory to search for local clinics.

We are aware that some have found success bypassing VAMS and registering through hospital portals in the surrounding cities. These third party VAMS sites appear to be more direct and do not require waiting for confirmation emails and codes. For links to some local participating vaccination centers, please see further below.

We are also aware that some residents do not have the mobility to obtain a vaccine in another nearby community, or might not be able to leave their homes. Once supplies are available, the town plans for a larger-scale local vaccination site, as well as a traveling clinic for those who are most vulnerable and homebound.

The state’s long-term distribution plan focuses on 5 or 6 large vaccination clinics set up across Connecticut, and with neighborhood CVS and Walgreens pharmacies as potential local options. However, there are multiple challenges with distribution, administration and the vaccine supply itself that must be overcome at the state and federal levels first.

Keep in mind that neither the Westport Department of Human Services nor the Westport Senior Center has access to the VAMS portal, nor can they schedule a vaccination on a resident’s behalf. Human Services staff is working diligently to answer questions and offer resources to help.

Vaccine line outside the Westport Senior Center. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Ultimately, the state’s official helpline (211) is the best option for registration by phone or to have your technical questions answered.

Do not be discouraged as the inevitable complications and delays occur. Your patience is needed during these trying times. Please remember to continue to wear a face covering, social distance and maintain good hygiene.

For more information on the vaccine in Westport, visit www.westportct.gov/vaccine or print Westport’s Vaccination Tip Sheet here: https://www.westportct.gov/home/showpublisheddocument?id=37255

For information on the WWHD’s plans to schedule and conduct vaccinations, go to www.wwhd.org

The state’s vaccine information site can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccination—75-and-older

One response to “Marpe’s Vaccine Update: Patience, Persistence Needed

  1. Michelle Benner

    Meanwhile, many parents and administrators in the community are demanding that come Feb 1, before teachers are even eligible for the vaccine, that these same teachers are obligated to sit in a classroom of 20+ maskless students while they eat lunch.