NEW BRITAIN – With new recommendations from the CDC, Hartford HealthCare is focused on being ready by Monday for people to schedule appointments to receive their Pfizer booster shot.
There were four different categories that were reviewed specifically related to the Pfizer vaccine. One was anyone over the age of 65 can receive a booster if it has been at least six months since they completed their first series. The second was those between the ages of 50-64 who are at significant risk for covid based on a set list of diseases.
The second category that was reviewed by the ASIP committee and the CDC leadership was people who are between ages 50-64 who are at significant risk for severe covid based disease states.
“The CDC has a comprehensive list of those diseases on their website, heart disease and diabetes are the two biggest,” said Eric Arlia, system director of pharmacy at Hartford HealthCare. “That was a strong recommendation that those individuals should receive a booster dose.”
The next category is individuals ages 18-49 who have risk of severe covid based on a disease that they may have; the recommendation is those individuals should consider getting a booster dose.
The last category, which was the one that changed as the day progressed Thursday, according to Arlia, is individuals who based on their work environment may be at higher risk of exposure to covid.
“We do not have a clear guidance from the authorities (on who is in the category of jobs), although the CDC director has made a direct comment regarding healthcare workers and some high-risk jobs, at the moment. We are waiting for further clarity on that and I’m hoping by Monday we will have a clear understanding,” said Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer at Hartford HealthCare.
Arlia said the first two categories have a bit of a stronger recommendation to get the booster vaccine than the last two categories.
“And there is no recommendation, approval or guidance on switching from one brand of vaccine to another,” he added.
Hartford HealthCare said it is ready to provide and create access for vaccines and boosters for the community as needed, as approved, and appropriately authorized by the FDA and CDC officials.
“Our website is updated at this time with appropriate locations where one can register through MyChart or otherwise to seek boosters at this time,” Kumar said. “What we are planning today and over the weekend is to make sure our clinics are well stocked. This is a very positive step from the CDC and FDA and I’m excited that we are able to offer the booster to our larger community at this time; this is going to make our place and community safer.”
The MyChart system will ask a series of questions for patients to attest to falling into one of the approved categories. Once these steps are complete, patients will be able to see locations that have appointments available.
When you arrive for your appointment, Arlia said it is ideal to bring your vaccine card with you.
“It lets us verify that you finished the series at least six months prior and I think most importantly it allows us to document your third dose on your original card. If you did receive vaccination through us at Hartford HealthCare, we obviously also have that info in our electronic health record. We also have access to vaccine info for people who are vaccinated at other sites in the state through CT Wiz Portal,” Arlia said.
For the state overall, Kumar said he agrees with DPH Commissioner Dr. Juthani, who said Thursday she is “cautiously optimistic about Connecticut’s covid-19 trajectory.”
“We’ve seen a decrease in positivity rate, some decline in hospitalizations as well, so I share her optimism at this time,” he said. “This peak at this time has taken slightly longer to taper off, especially on the hospitalization side, but I’m optimistic that this is going to improve over time.”