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State to push boosters for nursing home residents



Dr Manisha Juthani, Commissioner for Public Health Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

State public health officials said Monday they hoped to ensure COVID vaccine booster clinics were held in all Connecticut nursing homes by mid-December as the Vaccine immunity to the virus was waning in some of the state’s most vulnerable residents.

In an afternoon update, Gov. Ned Lamont said his administration was making “a special effort” to organize callback clinics in nursing homes that had not already hosted one.

“You know how badly they were affected a year and a half ago,” Lamont said. “We had everyone vaccinated there, but in many cases it is six or nine months ago. Now is the time for nurses as well as residents of nursing homes. Get your booster shot. We bring it there for you and it’s the right thing to do.

Nursing home residents were among the first in Connecticut to receive COVID-19 vaccines when they were first cleared nearly a year ago, a move prompted by heavy losses early in the pandemic. Josh Geballe, the state’s chief operating officer, said many nursing homes began offering booster clinics shortly after federal regulators cleared them.

“What we’re talking about now are some of the laggards,” Geballe said. “As we have seen in the past, some homes unfortunately take a little longer to organize. So [Public Health Commissioner Manisha] Juthani and his team are pushing hard on these homes to have these clinics finished. ”

During the update, Lamont said about 18% of eligible adults in Connecticut have so far received booster shots. But officials have struggled to estimate the number of eligible nursing home residents. On Thursday, Juthani said she expected about 70% of facilities in the state to have recall clinics. She said about 95% of residents in facilities with clinics usually get vaccinated.

“We’re very focused on this point,” Juthani said. “It’s not something that has just started over the past two weeks. The houses did this. Many of them have already been completed, as I mentioned. But we are on the right track to ensure that this population is protected. “

In recent weeks, COVID infection rates have remained high in Connecticut and elsewhere in the northeast region. Connecticut reported more than 2,000 new cases over the weekend at a 3.53% infection rate. Hospitalizations also increased from 21 to 268 statewide.

Juthani attributed high transmission to both the colder weather that brings residents together indoors and the decreased vaccine protection in people who were vaccinated more than six months ago.

In addition to strengthening recall clinics, the state’s public health department continued to take steps to enforce a vaccination mandate for employees of health facilities, including nursing homes. Over the weekend, he announced he had imposed more than $ 19 million in fines on 101 healthcare facilities that failed to comply with warrant reporting requirements.

The increased spread of the virus has already had an impact on Connecticut nursing homes. Earlier this month, Geer Village Senior Community, a nursing home in Canaan, reported an outbreak of COVID in which eight residents died.

At Monday’s press conference, the governor encouraged all residents who completed their first rounds of immunization more than six months ago to receive a booster before the holidays bring them closer to more people. He said vaccination clinics are available at Bradley International Airport, as well as stations in New Haven and Stamford.

“We are much better prepared than a year ago, much better prepared than we were,” said Lamont. “You have the vaccines, the boosters, we have the masks. We will go through this without a doubt about it. Let’s make sure the next wave is the smoothest of all.