Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”


  1. When, where and how to register to be vaccinated – as of January 12  

       Q: Has anything changed since last week on how we can get vaccinated?

       A:  YES!!  WFSB TV announced during its 11:00 news broadcast on January 11 that the Connecticut guidelines for Track 1b groups to get vaccinations has been released.

  • The first group to be allowed vaccinations will be people over age 75
  • The first mass vaccination site will be Rentschler Field in East Hartford
  • Another site will be the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford
  • Several pharmacies will be included
  • Appointments can be made starting on Thursday, January 14
  • Vaccination appointments will start on Monday, January 18

Appointments can be made starting Thursday using the Vaccine Administration Management (VAM) website[1]

Further details including the phone numbers to use for making an appointment will be forthcoming.  You can find more updated information on the WFSB or the CT websites:1—Phases

186. Lack of planning for distribution of vaccines to sites creates bottlenecks

         Q: Is it true that some vaccine doses delivered to states aren’t being used?

         A: Yes.  In many states, doses received from the manufacturers are not making their timely way to regional and local sites where they can be administered.  The federal “Project Warp Speed” did plan for a rapid manufacturing of the initial doses of the vaccines and transportation to each state.  Communication between the states and the manufacturers for additional periodic shipments has been somewhat ineffective.  But more critical is the lack of federal guidelines and incomplete state planning for moving the stockpiles to localities where the vaccinations can be given.  CDC has reported that as of January 4, 15,400,000 doses of COVID-19 doses have been sent to the states, but only 4,500,000 (29%) of these have been administered.  Without detailed national guidelines, some states have avoided trashing unused vaccines by allowing anyone to be vaccinated on a first-come-first-served basis.  Their vaccination sites have quickly become overwhelmed.  Other states have held tightly to their sequential eligibility for getting shots and they had to destroy unused doses that exceeded the time limits for storage.  The emerging nation-wide planning by the new Biden administration will need to address these issues.

  1. More implications from the emerging mutation coronavirus-9

       Q:  How widely has the variant mutation of coronavirys-9 spread in the US??

       A:  Since last week, the more infectious variant of coronavirus-19 has been identified in eight states including Connecticut.  The other states are New York (3 cases identified), California (32 cases), Florida (22 cases), as well as Colorado, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas.  Few states have ramped up their gnomic testing to identify these mutant viruses.  Thus, it is expected the prevalence of this variant virus in each state may be much higher than the number reported.  As a result, it becomes increasingly more important to wear masks and keep an even greater social distance from others.  As the New York Times reported, “In a positive development, Pfizer and BioNTech announced last Friday that their vaccine was effective against one of the mutations present in the new contagious variants identified in Britain and South Africa.”  Another new finding has just been announced that may explain why this mutation is more infectious.  The FDA last Friday announced that some of the authorized COVID tests show an increased number of false negatives with this mutation.  This means many of those actually infected with the variant virus do not show a positive finding.  The contagious person can therefore remain less vigilant to take strict measures to stop the spread.  Thermo Fisher Scientific’s TaqPath COVID-19 combo kit, and Applied DNA Sciences’ Linea COVID-19 assay kit were both found to have significantly reduced sensitivity to the mutations including the ones now rapidly – explosively – expanding.

  1. Hospitals teeter on the brink of crisis

       Q:  How widespread is the problem of hospitals filling up?

       A:  One way that hospitals guard against running out of beds is to initiate programs to increase “surge capacity.”  Planning calls for setting up additional beds and adjusting staffing schedules to expand critical capacity.  Another planned response is to identify critical care capability in other hospitals.  Hospitals can then redirect ambulances on the way in, or transfer out patients already there.  In several locations across the country, these measures have not been enough.  Southern California is so overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients for which there is no staff or space for expansion, and no nearby facility available to transfer patients.  As a result, ambulances arriving have had to wait many hours in the parking lot before patients can be seen inside.  “When we get filled up with COVID patients, we can’t take care of the community in general,” said Jim Kearny, the managing partner for emergency physicians at Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo.  “Every bed is full, every nurse and doctor is occupied taking care of COVID patients.”  The rationing of care – following the crisis standard of care – is becoming a more frequent necessity.

Another cause for the lack of beds goes to the end of care. There is no space in some hospitals to hold all the dead bodies this making room for new patients to occupy the freed-up beds.  For hospitals throughout California, the Office of Emergency Services has arranged to send 88 refrigerated trailers to hospitals to help meet their need to clear space where bodies are accumulating.

189. Vaccinated nurse in the US contracts COVID-19

        Q:  I heard that people getting vaccinated are coming down with COVID.  Is this true?

        A:  A nurse in California contracted COVID-19 more than a week after being vaccinated.  Pfizer and medical experts immediately reacted by saying the vaccine needed more time to build immunity.  Apparently fearful that a single case might be used by those who are opposed to vaccines to prove their case, the response was made quickly after the situation was publicized.  The incident also illustrates that the public health benefit of the vaccination program is not to guarantee immunity for everyone who receives the shot.  An “effective vaccine” defines how many people who gets the vaccine will be protected.  The Pfizer vaccine in its clinical trials was found to be 95% effective.  This means 95% of the people vaccinated will be protected, and that 5% can still contract the disease.  The public health goal is to reduce the number of people from which others can become infected.  This will reduce the spread of the disease over time as more and more people are vaccinated.  We all know people who got a flu shot yet still came down with influenza.

This and any similar future cases do not prove the COVID vaccine is ineffective.

  1. Five more people have shown severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine

        Q:  How badly are people showing allergic reactions to the vaccine?

        A:  The FDA is investigating five events last week where people suffered severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine.  Peter Marks, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research identified that these patients were from several different states, including one from Alaska.  He identified an ingredient of the vaccine – polyethylene glycol – as the suspected culprit causing these reactions.  The number of people with allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine is frequently found in people who have had previous anaphylactic reactions to other medications.  It remains an FDA recommendation that people who know they had previous allergic reactions to medications should not get the COVID vaccine.  It also justifies the recommendation that everyone getting vaccinated remain on-site 15 minutes for observation.  Immediate treatment for anaphylaxis – the most critical result of an allergic reaction – is an EpiPen or injection of epinephrine.  Space is required for each person being vaccinated to remain for 15 minutes after getting their shots.  EpiPens must be available with people trained to administer this.  These requirements make planning for large-scale vaccinations more difficult.

[1] To access this website, copy the complete URL (underlined and blue in color)  For VAMS, you can register in advance of January 14.