Ridgefield looks to expand COVID vaccination efforts

Dr. Guillermo Ballarino, pulmonary intensivist, gets the first COVID-19 vaccine at Danbury Hospital. Dr. Ballarino has been on the frontlines caring for patients since Danbury Hospital's first COVID-19 patient in March.

Dr. Guillermo Ballarino, pulmonary intensivist, gets the first COVID-19 vaccine at Danbury Hospital. Dr. Ballarino has been on the frontlines caring for patients since Danbury Hospital’s first COVID-19 patient in March.

Contributed Photo / The News-Times

RIDGEFIELD — The vaccine rollout has been successful so far with more to come, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

The town has set up a larger facility with the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association to continue administering vaccines to those in Phase 1a, which includes residents who are 75 and older.

“We can’t thank them enough for their participation,” Marconi said of the RVNA.

Registration for residents 75 and older is available on the town website by clicking on the red COVID banner. Participants will fill out a survey and the state will notify them if they qualify. Once notified, participants will be asked to fill out information for the Vaccine Administration Management System portal and find information on available times and locations for the vaccine. Participants should save all log-in information and keep all communications about their vaccine sign-up.

“Phase 1b will start when we begin seeing the end of the 75 plus,” Marconi said. “People need to be patient.”

He said there are a lot of seniors in town who do not have computers. Officials are reaching out to them to get their information and in some cases coordinating transportation to get them to the clinic.

“It’s a long, laborious effort,” Marconi said.

Ridgefield had a significant uptick in cases this week so officials are urging all residents to be extra vigilant, wear a mask, avoid groups and follow distancing and sanitizing protocols. Its rate per 100,000 people is 39.7 with eight new cases reported Monday. There have been a total 923 cases and 58 deaths in town throughout the pandemic, according to state data posted on Tuesday.

Marconi said that obtaining information about the vaccine is still a challenge and is making scheduling difficult.

“This is a fast paced, changing every day event that we just need to be prepared for the maximum and yet be able to handle the minimum as well,” he said. “In terms of a timeline, it’s a huge question mark because of the lack of information coming from the government. I understand the state trying to give a fair distribution of it, that’s important so I understand that part in terms of working with the private manufacturers.”

When U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that there was no stockpile of vaccines, it created more confusion on whether a schedule can be maintained, doses can be distributed, and can manufacturers meet the supply.

As more people start to get vaccinated, Gov. Ned Lamont warned residents to beware of scammers. Vaccinations are free. No-one will ask for cash or check payment, credit card or bank information, social security numbers, passport information or other personal information unless it’s related to medical insurance.

Marconi is looking to expand Ridgefield’s vaccination capacity.

“We would like to do 200-300 a day,” he said. “At this point we’re not close to that and we are prepared for a second location at if necessary.”