On Saturday, Jan. 2, the Chesprocott Health District opened their first COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Cheshire Community Pool.
Chesprocott received 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine, and has begun the daunting Phase 1A process of vaccinating residents against the deadly virus.
“We’ve received the Moderna vaccine from the state due to the fact (that) storage requirements for the Pfizer vaccine are (ones we cannot meet),” stated Cheshire Town Manager Sean Kimball. “We are looking to start vaccinating our first responder workforce in the first weeks of January.”
Last week, during the 2020 Cheshire Public Schools Holiday Convocation LiveStream, Superintendent of Schools Jeff Solan announced that vaccines for teachers and faculty should become available in the coming months.
“We are excited to announce, we should be rolling out vaccines around the time of February break,” he said. “It is not mandatory that you get the vaccine, but it is recommended.”
While there has been a lot of confusion on social media over who exactly qualifies for the Phase 1A vaccination, the Connecticut Department of Public Health states that those who fall under that umbrella include all healthcare personnel, long-term facility residents, and first responders who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Health care personnel is defined as all doctors, nurses, pharmacists, school nurses, death care workers, custodial, dietary, and administrative staff, as well as home health providers and dentists.
“The clinic went phenomenally on Saturday,” said Director of Chesprocott Maura Esposito. “We had some hiccups, but they were barely noticeable. When we do clinics, we normally have never had so much data to enter into the computers right away, but with this new protocol everything is online.”
To ensure that only Phase 1A-qualified individuals receive the vaccine, Esposito is adhering to new guidance from the state, recently received by Chesprocott.
“We have to have a sign out displaying what phase we are on, and our nurses need a verbal confirmation before giving out the actual vaccine,” she explained. “If you are not a member of the Phase 1A, we will ask you to leave.”
The protocols are, in part, necessary due to misinformation that has been spreading online about who falls under the Phase 1A qualifications, Esposito stated. Also, while employers have sent out email invitations to employees to make a reservation to get a vaccine, some of the emails may have been sent to the wrong people.
“People may have forwarded emails to other people in order to get a vaccine reservation, but these vaccines right now are strictly for those who are in the Phase 1A, and no one else,” she added.
As for the next phase — 1B — it is currently unclear who exactly will qualify, but it is likely that it will include residents who are members of the critical workforce, those who live in congregate settings, adults who are over the age of 65, and persons who are high risk under the age of 65. According to Esposito, the state has been relatively vague as to what those categories will mean in terms of who will qualify.
“We don’t know right now who will fall under those categories, and we are trying to get the people in Phase 1A done as quickly as possible,” she stated.
Esposito and her team at Chesprocott planned to hold another clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 6, for qualified individuals.
“The town has been nice enough to let us use the Town Pool for the rest of the winter,” she added. “My staff and I have been working so hard to get everyone ready for this rollout. We are dedicated to keeping our residents safe.”