Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe today issued the following update on the COVID Vaccine and comments regarding Martin Luther King Day:
The State of Connecticut has officially announced that COVID-19 vaccine registration can begin today, Monday, January 18 for those in Category 1b. The State has also expanded the eligibility criteria for the 1b category, although those in the expanded category will not be able to register on Monday.
Many Westporters have already begun registering themselves into the Department of Public Health’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). Some have done so easily and await the ability to schedule their appointment. Others struggle with the technology and the registration requirements. Knowing this, the State has launched its official helpline for registration by phone. Be aware that this line is in high demand, with very long wait times. This is a State-led program and supplies within the State are limited to what is given to CT from the Federal government. As such there are limitations to the distribution and we all must remain patient and vigilant as this program unfolds.
The 1b category includes those who are 75 years and older, residents and staff living in congregate settings and some essential workers. The revised category will also include those over 65 and others with underlying health complications. That revision will not take place for a couple of weeks since Governor Lamont had announced that the State will be prioritizing the most vulnerable population first. Many who qualified under 1a and 1b have begun to be vaccinated. Second dose shots began last week. This is all hopeful news that many of us are eager to hear. You should not be discouraged as complications and delays occur. In the meantime, remain vigilant, wear a face covering, social distance and maintain good hygiene and sanitation. Your patience is needed during these times, but relief is underway.
I have included a message from the Westport Weston Health District which spells out the details of the State’s plans and registration process and provides useful contact information.
Message from the Westport Weston Health District
On January 14, Governor Lamont announced that phase 1b of Connecticut’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout will begin today, January 18, 2021, and residents in the state over the age of 75 can now schedule appointments to receive the vaccine.
Individuals included in 1a rollout:
- Healthcare Personnel: All paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients of infectious materials.
- Long Term Care Facility Residents: Adults who reside in facilities that provide a range of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.
- First Responders at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their response to medical emergencies such as Emergency Medical Technicians, Police, and Fire.
Individuals included in phase 1b:
- Individuals 75 and older are able to register on Monday
All eligible residents are required to make an appointment in advance of receiving the vaccine. Individuals over the age of 75 can make appointments utilizing the following tools:
- Healthcare Provider – Many residents have already been or will be contacted to schedule an appointment by their healthcare provider if their provider is participating in the state’s vaccine program. Not all providers are administering the vaccine. A list of participating providers is available at ct.gov/covidvaccine. Residents are urged not to contact their physician or healthcare provider directly for COVID vaccine appointments.
- Online – A form can be accessed online at ct.gov/covidvaccine that allows individuals to schedule an appointment through the web-based Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS)
- Telephone – Those without internet access can call Connecticut’s COVID Vaccine Appointment Assistance Line at 877-918-2224. The phone system was created in partnership with the Department of Public Health and United Way of Connecticut and is specifically targeted to provide support for eligible vaccine recipients who have limited technology access, or who have language, disability, or other barriers that could prevent them from using existing self-scheduling options successfully. The line will take calls on Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will offer a call-back option when all contact specialists are busy serving other callers. The team will aim to return calls as soon as possible, with the goal of same-day response.
***If you schedule online, please note that every individual must have a unique email address to be registered and vaccinated with VAMS. For example, if you are registering your elderly parent and you use your email, you will not be able to be vaccinated using that same email. Using VAMS is a Federal requirement at this time. It is the only way at this time that an individual not in a congregate setting may register and receive a vaccination in Connecticut. This is a State of Connecticut program and residents do not need to be vaccinated in the town in which they reside. VAMS may suggest vaccination appointments in nearby communities based on the supply of available vaccine.
Martin Luther King Day
Dr. King professed, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
It is important to recognize that Dr. King’s legacy must be active and “in the moment” in order to move forward. Like Dr. King, we must not shy away from the continuing challenge of including all those with seemingly diverse opinions, backgrounds and capabilities. These individuals and groups have the potential to broaden the horizon and spectrum of our daily lives in the most positive ways.
Westport’s social consciousness is continually evolving. It is vital that in the course of that evolution varied opportunities for understanding, acceptance and change are provided. TEAM Westport, the Interfaith Council of Westport and Weston, the Westport Library, and Staples High School Peer Groups, among others, arrange programs and guidance for intelligent community conversation and initiatives. I am grateful to the members of these groups who work diligently and effectively to provide the programs that teach, enrich, enhance, and expand our social awareness.
I encourage everyone to take part in the special virtual events that have been planned for the following week by TEAM Westport, the Westport Library and the Westport Country Playhouse:
- Tuesday, January 19, What Can I Do Next? Rev. Alison Patton, Jenny Nelson (of the Westport Country Playhouse) and Harold Bailey (Chair, TEAM Westport), discuss the 28-day practice of self-reflection outlined in Saad's book and invite community members to take up the challenge. On Zoom. Register here:https://westportlibrary.org/event/mlk-celebration-2021-what-can-i-do-next/
- Thursday, January 21, Toward a More Just World: The Playhouse hosts an inspirational evening of monologues from four Black theater artists responding to the work of Dr. King and the themes of Ms. Saad’s book - online. RSVP here: https://www.westportplayhouse.org/show/mlk2021/
- Monday, February 1, Embark on the 28-Day Challenge: during Black History Month, Westport/Weston community members are invited to take up Ms. Saad’s challenge. Pick up your copy of the book qt the Westport Library or consider purchasing your own copy of book and workbook through from one of these Black-owned independent bookstores:https://lithub.com/you-can-order-today-from-these-black-owned-independent-bookstores/
All events are FREE and open to the public with RSVP.