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‘We got to do a better job’ vaccinating underserved communities, says Connecticut governor

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” “we got to do a better job there” when it comes to delivering Covid vaccines to underserved communities. 

“People of color are twice as likely to get infected and suffer complications and half as likely to get vaccinated,” said Lamont during a Tuesday evening interview. “We’re bringing the mobile vans to the communities, we are working with the churches.”

Data from the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) suggested that “disparities exist in vaccine administration across racial lines, with Black populations lagging behind White and Hispanic populations.” Lamont, however, assured host Shepard Smith that officials are working to make sure he allocates sufficient vaccines to underserved communities and that “nobody is going to get left behind.” 

Connecticut is gaining national attention for going against federal guidelines and prioritizing age over health or employment status. More than six out of ten of the state’s residents 75 and older have been vaccinated. The one exception to the rule includes teachers and others who work in schools. Lamont explained that his vaccine rollout strategy is based on the data. 

“We figured we could really focus on the older population, 55 and above, that’s where 96% of the complications take place,” Lamont said. 

Connecticut has seen some success in getting Covid shots in arms. It has administered 882,777 shots, a 90% jab ratio, according to the CDC

Smith asked about frontline workers in Connecticut who were “disgusted” with Lamont’s strategy. The Connecticut governor doubled down on his strategy and pointed to those workers who live with older family members.

“I say a lot of them live in multi-generational housing and thank god they’re there with their mothers, fathers, grandparents, and they have been vaccinated now, so they know they can get home safely, and they know within three weeks, 45 and above will be able to get vaccinated, so they know there is the light at the end of the tunnel and their turn is coming fast,” Lamont said. 

Access to a larger supply of vaccines across the U.S. may come more rapidly than expected. Executives from Pfizer and Moderna told House lawmakers Tuesday that their companies expect to double and possibly triple vaccine shipments in the coming weeks. Pfizer’s Chief Business Officer John Young said the company can ramp up production from approximately 5 million doses to more than 13 million doses by mid- March. Moderna President Dr. Stephen Hoge said his company is similarly working to double its shipments and turn out about 40 million doses a month by April.

The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to review Johnson & Johnson‘s one-shot vaccine on Thursday. J&J Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Richard Nettles said that the company plans to ship more than 20 million doses to the U.S. by the end of March. That means at least 20 million people will be fully vaccinated. 

Former Obama administration official Dr. Kavita Patel told “The News with Shepard Smith” that as a great percentage of the population gets vaccinated, “it will dramatically change our lives.” 

“Imagine getting back to normal as early as the summer,” Patel said.