Vernon officials have started taking its vaccination efforts on the road with a mobile vaccination unit. The trailer, accompanied by several volunteers, made its first visit Thursday at Rockville’s St. Bernard Church.
Inside their church’s basement, several members of the Blessed Sacrament Parish gathered, not for worship but for vaccination.
“I think it’s great. I didn’t expect it,” said 81-year-old Guy Brennan of Rockville. “I thought I was going to have to go to East Hartford or somewhere else,”
The Town of Vernon introduced the mobile vaccination unit with the objective of making vaccination distribution easier for the community.
“We are breaking down barriers, making getting a vaccine as convenient as possible,” said Vernon’s Director of Emergency Management Michael Purcaro.
Like those vaccinated at Rockville Hospital, Vernon officials explained, every person vaccinated Thursday was registered through the state’s VAMS system, with the assistance of town personnel.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from the community, particularly the most vulnerable, that they’re struggling trying to schedule themselves for the vaccine,” said Vernon Police Lieutenant William Meier.
Among those participating at St. Bernard’s Thursday was Susan McNamee, who says getting the shot means everything.
“It’s very important. I haven’t seen two of our family’s grandchildren in over a year,” she said
Father Rick Ricard oversees the parish and says distributing vaccines in this familiar environment also provides a sense of comfort.
“Just like many of them have been isolated from the grandchildren, their great grandchildren, they’ve been isolated from their church family too,” Ricard explained.
The clinic was not limited to church parishioners - it was available all eligible candidates under the state’s phase 1b guidelines.
Vaccinations were administered by health care professionals with Priority Urgent Care.
"The whole idea is to get vaccines to people as quickly as possible," said Dr. Daksh Rampal.
One hundred people were vaccinated at St. Bernard's, giving them a sense of relief and hopes of returning to normalcy sometime soon.
“I miss the hugs,” said McNamee, “I have 15 grandchildren and haven’t been able to hug any of them.”
While this was the first stop for Vernon’s mobile unit, it will not be the last. The town says it plans to bring it to several congregate settings in Vernon and surrounding towns.