Among the state’s vaccine success stories is the town of Vernon. Combined with vaccinations given at Rockville Hospital, Vernon says it has had a part in administering an estimated 10,000 doses through its clinics and mobile operations.
Standing out is not necessarily the number of doses administered as much as it is the way they’ve been doing it.
Vernon officials say they are aiming to break down barriers with its vaccination efforts. To accomplish that, Vernon has been simplifying registration and bringing the vaccine directly to the people.
Mayor Dan Champagne says the goal is simple: get the COVID-19 vaccine to every person who wants it.
“My vision is to get the shots in people’s arms,” said Champagne. “If you want that shot, I want to give it to you.”
Subsequently, Vernon went to work. Setting up clinics. Not just in Vernon but in many surrounding towns as well. Ellington’s Senior Center was where Vernon’s mobile unit set up shop Wednesday.
Susan Modzelewski of Ellington was among those receiving her first dose there.
“I think it’s great,” she said of Vernon’s efforts to help. “The more people that get involved, trying to coordinate this the better because it’s massive.”
Ellington is just one of several towns where Vernon has provided vaccination service. They’ve also assisted in East Windsor, Somers, Stafford, Tolland and Willington.
Striving to serve all sectors of its nearby community, Vernon has organized clinics at churches, mosques and other worship centers.
“What we’re doing here is grassroots vaccination,” said Vernon’s Emergency Management Director, Michael Purcaro. “We know our community better than anybody.”
Vernon officials say the key to its efforts has been removing obstacles that have prevented people from getting the vaccination. They’ve helped provide transportation and have helped people overcome technology and language hurdles with its multi-lingual call center.
The call center has 12 phone lines and an interpretation service allowing them to field calls in 40 different languages.
“Making things simple is really what has made it so successful,” said Vernon Vaccine Coordinator, William Meier who is also a Vernon Police Department lieutenant.
Organizers say their efforts have not gone unnoticed as they’ve received inquiries on how it’s being done from municipalities near and far.
Vernon’s efforts have been so successful, the town says it has received inquiries from towns and cities from all over. Even beyond Connecticut. Town officials say towns from several neighboring states have also called looking for advice on how to set up their clinics.