WALLINGFORD — A dry run of a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic took place Thursday at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre, as Hartford HealthCare shifts second-dose patients from MidState Medical Center in Meriden to the live entertainment venue.
The Oakdale, 95 S. Turnpike Road, is slated to become one of HHC’s regional mass vaccination centers. According to the HHC website, those who received their first dose at MidState — Hartford HealthCare is the hospital’s parent company — should make their appointments for second doses at the Oakdale.
The other mass vaccination sites are Liberty Square in New Britain, Central High School in Bridgeport, the Hartford Convention Center and the Torrington Armory. HHC also has secured rights to properties at the Xfinity Center in Hartford, Foxwoods Resort Casino and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.
HHC is slated to hold a virtual briefing Friday. Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Ajay Kumar and System Director Eric Arlia are scheduled to discuss topics including the launch and update of mass vaccination sites.
Wallingford Health Director Stephen Civitelli said Tuesday, during an update to the Town Council on COVID-19 response, that the plan for the “dry run” Thursday at the Oakdale involved 20 Wallingford Public Schools employees who are 65 years old or older receiving a vaccine shot.
The goal is to get Wallingford’s public school employees — roughly 1,000 people — their first vaccine dose by the end of March, if the town’s allocation of doses holds, Civitelli said.
In Wallingford, 19.67 percent of town residents have received at least their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to state data released Thursday. In Meriden, that number is 12.72 percent. In New Haven County, it’s 16 percent of residents and statewide the number is 15.5 percent.
The Wallingford Health Department, which runs independent vaccine clinics, ran a clinic Thursday for both first and second doses with appointments for 420 people, by far the largest number of people scheduled for a town-run clinic so far.
“We’re making progress,” Civitelli said Thursday, “however we are throttled back obviously by vaccine allocation.”
Currently, the Health Department has a waiting list of about 1,200 people and only receives about 300 doses per week from the state.
Many town residents who sought appointments elsewhere are having issues getting a second shot, creating a push and pull on the waiting list.
“They’re trying to get into our clinics for second shots,” Civitelli said, “as well as those who have gone to hospitals to get appointments and hospitals have canceled on them, then they’ve come back to try and get on our registration list.”
For every 200 to 300 people the town gets to, he said, it seems another 100 to 200 people come back on the waiting list.
Mobile clinics, aimed at uninsured and homebound populations, might start as soon as May, Civitelli said.
State may see boost in doses
Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday that Connecticut is slated to receive 30,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine next week, pending FDA authorization.
“This is big news in our efforts to speed up distribution,” Lamont said in a social media statement. “We were already anticipating 100,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines next week. If approved by the FDA, we’ll get 130,000 total doses next week and it should continue increasing each week.”
The announcement came on the heels of another development in Connecticut’s vaccination allocation plan. On Monday, Lamont released details about major changes to the vaccination eligibility schedule, switching to a mostly age-based system.
K-12 school staff, including teachers and professional childcare providers, are slated to be vaccinated at dedicated clinics, while Lamont is still working on how to address vaccine eligibility for essential workers and people with underlying medical conditions.
Civitelli is a member of the Lamont’s COVID-19 vaccine advisory group.
For information on scheduling a vaccination appointment go to Myrecordjournal/com/coronavirus.