Middlesex United Way 211 line helps connect people with COVID vaccines

MIDDLETOWN — We at the Middlesex United Way have been just like most of you and eagerly waiting for the COVID-19 to be widely available. Connecticut is currently in Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, and we are happy to see some significant progress in their distribution efforts.
With approximately 350,000 individuals in Connecticut between the ages of 65 and 74, and a slightly increased but relatively small weekly supply of the vaccine being received in the state from the federal government, Gov. Ned Lamont and state public health officials stress the need for patience on the part of Connecticut residents.
Currently, the state anticipates receiving about 60,000 first doses of the vaccine per week from the federal government.
The United Way-funded 24/7 hotline, 211 Connecticut, has a website dedicated to connecting those in need with many services — ranging from housing assistance to transportation assistance. They work in close partnership with the state of Connecticut, Department of Public Health, and vaccine providers across our state to create a list of public COVID-19 immunization clinics so eligible groups in the public can search for vaccine clinics nearest to them.
The public directory of vaccine clinics is available at 211ct.org/vaccineclinics. All require an appointment to be made in advance. When viewing the directory of vaccine clinics, click on “more details” for specific information about how you can schedule an appointment at each location. The website had over 55,000 hits in one day recently versus an average of 1,600 per day.
Those eligible to receive the vaccine but cannot self-schedule an appointment due to lack of internet access or access to technology, a disability, or a language barrier can call the COVID-19 vaccine appointments assistance line at 877-918-2224. Hours of operation are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.p
Due to this increased demand, 211 has expanded its staffing and schedule to keep hold times to less than three minutes. Language assistance is available to those who need it, and the list of VAAL compatible locations continues to expand. To date, 211 has responded to over 88,000 calls and has provided vaccine appointments directly to more than 33,000 residents.
The 211 program helps connect Connecticut residents to essential health and human services. United Way 211 is an incredible service to our state, and a portion of your donations to Middlesex United Way makes it possible. It is funded primarily by contributions from all Connecticut United Ways and direct contributions from the state.
We would like to take all of those who donate and volunteer to provide 211 and so many other services. To learn more, please contact Christina Heckart at christina.heckart@middlesexunitedway.org.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.