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Residents 55 and older can begin signing up for COVID vaccinations Monday

The state Department of Health is reminding Connecticut residents that beginning Monday, residents ages 55 and older will be eligible to schedule and receive their COVID-19 vaccination through one of more than 130 sites throughout the state.

In addition, public and private school teachers and other in-school staff, volunteers and bus drivers, and child care professionals will also be eligible to receive vaccine. That group will receive instructions from their school district, town or employer about how to schedule their vaccination.

With more than 500,000 individuals in the 55-and-older population and another 160,000 educators and child care workers now eligible for the vaccine, the DOH said Sunday it anticipates demand for the vaccine will far outweigh the supply as the eligibility opens for the new groups on Monday. This is because the state is receiving a weekly supply of about 130,000 doses of vaccine and individuals eligible from previous vaccination phases (health care workers and those 65 and up) are also still scheduling appointments.

The DOH is urging the newly eligible residents to be patient and recognize most will not be able to schedule their appointment first thing Monday morning due to the limited vaccine supply.

“We anticipate that our online scheduling systems and the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line will be inundated tomorrow and for the next several days with people eager to make their vaccine appointments. It’s a good problem to have, and we have increased our capacity to better handle the anticipated surge in volume, but it will still require people to be patient when signing up,” said Acting Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford in Sunday's announcement. “To ease the burden on the online and phone systems, we urge residents 55 and older to consider waiting a few days before seeking an appointment if they are able to do so. New appointments will become available each week and this will help reduce stress on the system in the early days of the roll out. We are all in this together, and we need to work together in order to get out of this pandemic as quickly as possible.”

DPH said residents 55 and older have many options for scheduling their vaccine as numerous providers offer online and telephone scheduling. A complete list of scheduling options can be found at ct.gov/covidvaccine.

In response to the anticipated spike in demand for vaccine appointments, the DOH said the Vaccine Appointment Assist Line (877-918-2224), run by United Way of Connecticut/211, has increased the capacity of the phone system and the number of staff answering calls.

The line can handle 1,050 calls at one time and the DOH said 300 people will be answering calls Monday.  A fast busy signal indicates the caller will need to try again later. The Vaccine Appointment Assist Line staff anticipate being able to speak with 10,000 callers per day and once that number is reached, callers will hear a recorded message telling them to call back the next day.

When using the online VAMS scheduling system, residents are reminded that they must first submit a form requesting access to the scheduling system. After that form is submitted, they will receive an email with instructions on accessing the scheduling system. This email is not automatic and can take several hours to a day to send. The form to access the VAMS system is available to eligible residents at https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/OnlineVaccine.

Access to the scheduling system will not be granted until Monday.

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