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Vaccines, Safety Precautions Put Major Dent In COVID Positivity Rates

February 04, 2021

Vaccinating up to 5,000 people a week — contributing to a total of 54,555 Connecticut residents who have received at least the first of two COVID-19 inoculations — has yielded significant decreases in the virus positivity rate and hospitalizations, according to Hartford HealthCare officials.

Keith Grant, senior system director of infection prevention for the system, said downward virus trends have been “very positive” with lulls in what he called “cluster exposures in the community” from gatherings, congregate living environments and workplaces. Not only does such a decrease stem from the number of people being vaccinated, but also from the population’s adherence to such preventative measures as physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing.

“We have also vaccinated more than 60 percent of our staff, which is higher than national numbers,” Grant said in a media briefing. “It’s very positive.”

The overall goal for controlling the virus is to have 75 percent of the population vaccinated, achieving what is called “herd immunity.” James Cardon, MD, chief clinical integration officer for Hartford HealthCare, said that objective drives his team’s efforts to get as many vaccinations delivered as they receive from the government each week. The system operates 15 fixed vaccination sites statewide, schedules mobile visits to congregate living locations and plans to open large-volume “mega” sites in each region soon.

“We could do up to 5,000 vaccinations a day at our current sites and many more at these mass sites,” Dr. Cardon explained. “We are poised to try to meet the needs….and we are 100 percent committed to being sure no resident is left behind. That is not an option for us.”

While scheduling — and the opening of the mega sites — is dependent on supply, he said “the trend is heading in the right direction.”

“We’re starting to see a decrease in cases and hospitalizations. It’s within our control, regardless of the variant,” he said, referring to mutations of the COVID-19 virus that many fear will not be controlled by the existing vaccine.

Precautions instituted during the pandemic have managed to squash the seasonal flu season, both men said. In the 2019-2020 flu season, the state saw more than 2,100 cases. This year, there have been less than 15, with only one hospitalized in all of Hartford HealthCare.

“Our efforts have impacted the spread of flu,” Grant said. “This is a very good plus for us. We need to keep doing those key things like hand washing and wearing masks.”

If You Haven’t Scheduled Your First Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

Anyone in the eligible groups can get vaccinated at a Hartford HealthCare vaccine clinic. An appointment is required to ensure safety. No walk-ins are allowed.

People eligible for a vaccine who already have a MyChartPlus account can log in and make an appointment at a Hartford HealthCare vaccine clinic. If you don’t have a MyChartPlus account, set one up on Hartford HealthCare’s MyChartPlus.org website.

If you’d prefer to schedule your appointment by phone, call the Hartford HealthCare Access Center at 860.827.7690 or toll-free at 833.943.5721.

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.