Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

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  1. When, where and how to register to be vaccinated – as of January 18 

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

       A:  Last Thursday, Connecticut started booking vaccinations for the first group in Track 1b – those aged 75 and older.  Other groups in this track will soon be able to make appointments:  These include those between the ages of 65 and 75 and front line essential workers including teachers, first responders and others.  A complete listing appears at[1]:—Phases

Following new national guidelines, some of these other groups will be blended in as doses become available.  Strict compliance to sequencing groups in a priority order is no longer required.  For example, recent news articles have shown firefighters being vaccinated, and complaints have been heard because teachers are starting to book appointments.  Organized groups will notify their members when appointments can be made.  For those qualified by age or health conditions, people need to learn of their eligibility through the news media or website shown above.

Everybody can immediately register on the state Vaccine Administration Management (VAM) website.  This will inform everyone who is registered when their turn for making appointments arrives.  Every state has this CDC VAM program resource.  The CT site is located at:1

After providing your name, email address, birth date and “occupation,” you will be told if your registration is accepted.  After as much as a two-week delay for processing, you will be notified when your group becomes eligible and how to make an application.

Or you can call the Connecticut Vaccine Line on the phone: (877) 918-2224 to register.

Be patient!  Several have stated when they call for an appointment, there are long waiting times – similar to calling for concert tickets before they sell out!  Hopefully things will improve!  For one person it took four minutes of rapid redialing to get through the busy signals.  Then 2 hours 55 minutes on hold before an agent picked up.  After that, only 4 minutes was required to schedule the appointment.  Keep the power cord and coffee maker close by!

  1. Confusion continues matching available doses to demand

       Q: Is it true that many people making appointments may not be vaccinated because they have run out of doses?

       A: Yes, this has been a problem, but will soon be rectified.  The Trump administration moved last week Tuesday to release all the vaccines stored in warehouses to expand the number of vaccinated people.  But this move was embarrassing when it was later learned that all reserved doses had already been released.  Some states with unused doses ready to be thrown out have opened up their vaccinations on a “first come-first served” basis.  This resulted in long lines, hours of waiting time, and eventually unvaccinated people being turned away.  President-elect Biden’s transitional team has been developing plans to both enhance product availability and the efficiency of administering doses.  Once he takes office this week, he is expected to invoke the Defense Production Act to order larger quantities of the vaccine.  Pfizer has announced that they will initially cut back on the number of doses immediately released to other countries, making up for this when US production increases.  Large-scale arena-sized vaccination centers are planned within each of the states, and National Guard mobilization is planned to run these centers.  Funds will be asked for from Congress to employ significant numbers of new public health personnel to expand testing and contact tracing.  Originally, the national plan was to hold back the second doses required for everyone receiving their first one.  Later, it was proposed to increase the number of people getting the first dose by releasing all vaccine doses immediately.  Dr. Fauci stated last week he was against this because it might mean  people might never get their second dose.  But he now agrees.  On January 17, he stated “the flow of COVID-19 vaccines is steady enough to ensure everyone will get their second dose to ensure 100 million vaccinations in Joe Biden’s first one hundred days in office.”

Of course, it will take time to build the resources and structures to vaccinate more efficiently.  People are advised to focus ahead and remain patient.

  1. Pain medications not advised before getting vaccinated

       Q:  Should I take a painkiller before getting my shot ?

       A:  Paul Offit, MD is a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.  He recently stated that some studies indicate that pain killing medications, taken before getting the vaccine, especially fever-reducing medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can interfere with the immune response.  Mild pain, soreness, swelling or aching are all associated with getting the COVID vaccine.  Knowing this, many people may want to take a pain medication before they get their shot.  Based on the evidence, this is not recommended.  This does not mean one cannot take medication to relieve the aftereffects.  The advice is given to wait at least 6 hours after being vaccinated before you take such medication.  And remember, you will be asked to wait for about 15 minutes after getting the shot to be sure  there is no allergic reaction.

  1. Gut bacteria tied to COVID-19 disease severity

       Q:  What’s new in research on coronavirys-19?

       A:  One scientific report has been published in a medical journal focusing on the digestive system.  “COVID patients lack certain good bacteria known to regulate our immune system,” said Siew Ng, MD, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the recent issue of the scientific journal Gut.  Her team has developed an oral formula of live bacteria and a special capsule to protect the organisms until they reach the gut.  “Compared with patients on standard care, our pilot clinical study showed that more COVID patients who received our microbiome immune formula achieved complete symptom resolution,” Ng said.  She added that “those who got it had significantly reduced markers for inflammation in their blood, increased favorable bacteria in their stool and they developed neutralizing antibodies to the virus.”

  1. Mental health concerns gaining attention.

       Q:  What about mental health and COVID – All we hear about is the public health?

       A:  Mental health aspects are less boldly defined and are not seen as great a threat as an inability to breath, or cardiovascular collapse.  In spite of this, studies and investigations are emerging that focus on the mental health aspects of COVID-19.  In a recent article in the Hartford Courant, “Steven Rogers, MD. An emergency physician at the Connecticut Children’s Hospital said before the pandemic, schools would often refer children having behavioral health issues to them for care.  But with many schools operating in a hybrid or remote model, ‘that’s not happening as much.  Our sense is that families are either not recognizing it, or are waiting longer.’”  He cited the fear that parents might be coming to a hospital emergency room that may be filled with COVID patients to address behavioral issues.

A study conducted in June and July in England and reported last Wednesday in the Journal of Occupational Medicine identified that nearly half of the staff working in intensive care units have severe anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic-stress-disorder, some even having suicidal thoughts.  This study is taking on new importance with the UK-variant coronavirus-19 dramatically increasing the number of patients in hospitals in Great Britain.  Their findings show an urgent need for mental health services to be promptly available to all healthcare workers.

[1] To open this website, copy the entire URL (underlined and in blue), and paste it in your internet browser.