The West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District hosted its first public COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Town Hall on Jan. 12.
By Ronni Newton
Individuals who fall into Phase 1A of Connecticut’s COVID-19 vaccination plans were able to obtain a dose of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday at West Hartford Town Hall, while across town at Hoffman-SummerWood, a centenarian and a couple married more than 62 years were among those receiving shots.
Vaccination of West Hartford’s medical first responders was completed Friday, said Aimee Krauss, director of the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District.
There were 100 spots available for reservation for Tuesday’s clinic, with registration handled through the state’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS), and the clinic was open to anyone who fell into the Phase 1A category. Being a West Hartford resident was not required.
All of the slots were taken, Krauss said, and those receiving vaccines included first responders from surrounding communities as well as individuals who work in a frontline position in health care.
“I was grateful I was able to get it, hopeful that this is the beginning of the end, and excited about the possibility of our children’s long-awaited wedding this July,” said Shirley Redman, who works for Optometric Specialty Group in West Hartford and received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday. She said the shot was painless, and had no immediate reaction of any type. [Editor’s note: The author of this article’s daughter is engaged to Redman’s son.]
Krauss said the Health District will hold a public clinic in Bloomfield on Thursday, but beginning next week a clinic will be held every Thursday at West Hartford Town Hall. While the clinic is public, only those who are eligible to receive the vaccine will actually be able to register for a time slot through VAMS.
Phase 1B is set to begin on Jan. 18 for individuals over age 75, and if Gov. Ned Lamont approves the recommendations of the allocations subcommittee of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group to include anyone over age 65, that could mean more than 1.5 million people will also soon be eligible for vaccines.
Teachers are already set to be included in Phase 1B, and Krauss said she’s working to conduct those clinics at a school.
The Health District initially received 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine just before Christmas, Krauss said, and began vaccinations the next morning. Since then, 300 more doses have been received, including another 200 on Monday. “We are using them all up,” she said.
Vaccinations at the Town Hall clinics are being administered by Health District employees, volunteers such as retired nurses, and nursing students, Krauss said.
Those who received vaccinations must wait 15 minutes before leaving the premises to ensure there are no adverse reactions. West Hartford Fire Department Community Service Officer Troy Shipley, who was assisting at the clinic Tuesday, said that while a few individuals had experienced slight vasovagal reactions due to the sight of the needle, everything had gone smoothly.
Those who have an active COVID-19 infection are not supposed to be vaccinated, and Shipley said if a vaccine is inadvertently administered to someone who is asymptomatic, the most likely effect will be a more pronounced local reaction at the injection site.
Assisted living residents also receive vaccines Tuesday
Residents of nursing homes and assisted living communities are in Phase 1A, and Hoffman SummerWood, a nonprofit senior living community in West Hartford, began administering doses to its residents on Tuesday.
According to Sophia Cannavo-Ostroski, marketing and admissions coordinator for Hoffman-SummerWood, close to 98% of residents received vaccines Tuesday administered by CVS representatives, with a 100-year-old resident among them.
Arnold Helfand, who has made SummerWood his home since 2019, will turn 101 on Feb. 5.
“It’s progress in medicine. The odds of improvement are better than none!” Helfland said about getting the vaccine. “I want to see my grandchildren and my great grandchildren, but more than that, I want them to see me.”
A couple who have been married for 63 years were also among the SummerWood residents to receive vaccines.
“I am used to getting vaccinations to prevent influenza, shingles. I’ve had enough of those in my life, and now – this,” said Leonard Weinberg, who waited his turn with his wife, Joan. He added that he was ready to put the COVID-19 “as far behind me as it gets.”
“I’m a bit anxious as I have an appointment following this and I hope I am feeling well enough – but it’s all going to be worth it,” Joan Weinberg added.
As she sat down to receive her vaccine, Lillian Rosenberg, a resident of SummerWood for just over four years, said, “I am happy. I am not necessarily excited, but I am so happy. I hope that this will put an end to this pandemic.”
SummerWood resident Shirley Goldman praised the way the clinic was run, and expressed her appreciation for being able to receive the vaccine.. “I thought that the vaccination clinic was run so efficiently, so beautifully; everything on time, everybody is moving along, and the people are very gracious,” she said just after she received her dose.
“Today was a monumental day at Hoffman SummerWood, due to the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Denise Peterson, president and CEO of Hebrew Senior Care. “The health, well-being and safety of our community continues to remain at the forefront of our mission. This has been a long-anticipated day and with this miracle of science we hope to once again allow our residents to see and hug their families, friends and loved ones.”
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