Roughly three weeks after getting the first round of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, health care workers throughout the state are starting to get their second doses.
Hartford HealthCare system employees led the way Monday morning, getting their second doses during a press conference at the Connecticut Convention Center. The health system gave employees the first round of vaccines 21 days ago. Other area hospitals, including Yale New Haven Hospital, plan to provide second doses later this week.
The first Hartford HealthCare employee to roll up his sleeve for a second dose was Keith Grant, senior system director of infection prevention at Hartford Healthcare. Before getting his shot, Grant said he and others believe in the vaccine’s ability to help end the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is what we do believe will ... completely flatten the curve,” he said.
Grant said he had no side effects after getting his first shot, and was eager to get his second. After Grant received his second dose, there was a chorus of cheers and applause from the audience.
Most of the employees vaccinated Monday were from Hartford Hospital, which is part of Hartford HealthCare — as is St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. There were no St. Vincent’s employees among those getting vaccinated Monday, but the hospital is slated to begin its second round of vaccinations Tuesday morning.
Other hospitals slated to receive the second round of vaccine include Yale New Haven Hospital. Hospital spokesman Mark D’Antonio said the hospital’s first five employees to get vaccinated are scheduled to receive their second vaccines starting Tuesday. The second round of vaccination will continue through this week, he said.
Stamford Hospital employees also are expected to start receiving their second dose of vaccine this week.
According to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, about 4.33 million doses had been administered in the United States as of Sunday night. In Connecticut, 73,000 doses have been administered, meaning about 2 percent of the population.
The state has used almost 65 percent of the doses it received, giving it one of the higher rates of use. For instance, though nearby Massachusetts has vaccinated about 88,000 people, it has used a little less than 31 percent of the doses it has received. Nationwide, the United States has administered about 33 percent of the 13,071,925 doses it has received.
In the Hartford HealthCare system, about 13,500 people had been vaccinated as of Sunday said Eric Arlia, system director of pharmacy for Hartford HealthCare. He said he expects vaccinations to increase now that the holidays are over.
Grant said he thinks Connecticut has done an “exceptional job” in distributing the vaccine. Michael Urban, director of occupational therapy at the University of New Haven, agreed, but added that Connecticut is in a better position to distribute vaccine efficiently than other states.
“Our state is state very small compared to other states and, within Connecticut we have two large organizations that employ a large number of the healthcare workers,” he said, referring to Yale New Haven Health and Hartford HealthCare.”
He also mentioned that “other states have not been able to distribute their vaccines as efficiently, due to poor state planning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a whole.”
“The country has not had a clear direction (throughout) this whole pandemic, thus each state has been left to their own agenda,” Urban said. “We have seen regions in the South and (Midwest) to be slower to adopt many of the practices that the Northeast and West coast have implemented.”