“I woke up pretty nervous, but I just feel so relieved, so happy,” said Amanda Keish, a fifth grade teacher at New Haven’s Roberto Clemente Elementary School.
She was among nearly 300 teachers and school staff to get vaccinated at Wilbur Cross High School, a building that’s been empty almost a year.
“It feels good just to have like buzzing in the building and the building being used,” said principal Edith Johnson.
The mass vaccination site is run by Fair Haven Community Health Care and sixteen schools are holding clinics. Those locations have a school-based health centers, making it easy for nurses to vaccinate school staff.
“Rather than clogging up this site and the other site, we’ll make sure teachers can also go right there on their school site,” said school superintendent Ilene Tracey.
The Wilbur Cross location will run Tuesday through Friday for teachers and the general public.
“We realized very early on that we had to focus our attention to our community so that was first and foremost Fair Haven and our patients, but by extension also New Haven,” said Fair Haven Community Health Care CEO Dr. Suzanne Lagarde.
The organization has vaccinated 5,000 people leading up to the launch and began seeing more of their patients wanting a vaccine as the 55 and over age group became eligible. Dr. Everett Lamm, vice president for clinical affairs, says they were vaccinating 150 people a day at their Grand Avenue location, but ran out of room.
They are one of four community health care organizations in the state set to receive extra vaccines from the Department of Health and Human Services. If supply is available, they hope to vaccinate 500 people per day and more.
“Being able to host a vaccine clinic like this, we have access to the state supply, we have access to the federal supply,” said Lamm. “And now with the newer vaccine that’s becoming available, we’re hoping to be able to go door to door essentially offering it to folks in our community who might otherwise have fallen through the cracks.”
Teacher Katie Foley just got her vaccine a day before her middle schoolers come back to class.
“I feel pretty good,” said Foley. “I think our school is pretty equipped to deal with the students coming back and we have a great staff so I’m excited to see kids in person.”