Shelton schools to hold COVID vaccine clinic for employees

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Exterior view of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Exterior view of the Board of Education offices in Shelton, Conn. Nov. 5, 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — The school district under the direction of Griffin Hospital and the Naugatuck Valley Health District will hold a COVID vaccination clinic for staff members on Saturday.

Superintendent Ken Saranich, in an email to district employees Sunday, said Shelton school staff will receive the Pfizer vaccine. Appointments will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Shelton Intermediate School.

“This will definitely assist us in opening up our schools more quickly and safely as our entire school system of workers, including our maintenance, security, cafeteria and bus drivers, will be afforded the opportunity to get vaccinated,” Board of Education Chairwoman Kathy Yolish said.

Yolish credited Saranich, district head nurse and COVID-19 liaison Adrianna Collins and district Chief of Staff Carole Pannozzo with spearheading the creation of the clinic.

Saranich called the establishment of the clinic “wonderful news and only possible through the extremely hard teamwork of the NVHD, Griffin Hospital and the Shelton Public School system.”

“I am very grateful to everyone involved,” Saranich added. “It is positive for our students, staff and Shelton as a whole as we take steps forward in creating a safer community.”

NVHD Director of Health Jessica Kristy said officials with the health district and Griffin Hospital, along with the superintendents and school nurses from each of the communities the NVHD serves, worked tirelessly to create clinics not only in Shelton but throughout the Valley.

“It was truly a community wide effort pulling this together,” Kristy said.

Kristy said the health district and Griffin Hospital have access to some 2,400 vaccines — both Pfizer and Moderna. In Shelton, she said there could be as many as 750 vaccines administered if everyone eligible attends the clinic. From the school staffers, Kristy said the next step is vaccinating child care and day care workers.

Griffin Hospital will continue to offer vaccines at its Progress Drive location Monday through Friday, and Kristy said the NVHD would still hold vaccination clinics Thursday and Friday at the Seymour Community Center, 20 Pine St., Seymour. She said vaccines will still be available for eligible members of the general public.

“Distribution was never the issue ... our resources are abundant,” said Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, adding that the district has 14 nurses to administer the vaccine, with plenty of available locations. “The biggest unknown was the availability (of the vaccine).

“Shelton is a key component in the Valley. We’re growing, and the health district knows this,” Lauretti added. “Working together with the health district we were able to get this done. We need to get the kids back in school ... that is not lost in all of this. This just moves that process forward quicker.”

Saranich said he does not have a specific number of individuals to be vaccinated since district officials are still in the scheduling process. He did confirm that bus drivers and cafeteria workers will be eligible.

At the Board of Education’s regular meeting on Feb. 24, Saranich said there were more than 500 staffers who could be vaccinated. He also stated that a survey of staffers showed that 90 percent of the employees who responded want to be inoculated.

Griffin Hospital will be setting up a separate booking platform for the district staff’s vaccination site.

Saranich said the district will not be uploading its rosters into the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) system.

“We are asking that if staff choose to attend the Shelton clinics hosted for our districts that they do not self-register in VAMS and also schedule someplace else,” he said. “Redundant scheduling is strongly discouraged and can disrupt the system.”

NVHD is holding concurrent vaccination clinics on March 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Ansonia High School for Ansonia and Derby schools; Seymour Community Center for Seymour schools; and Naugatuck High School for Naugatuck schools.

All eligible staff will be receiving a unique registration link from their superintendent where they will be able to schedule their appointment at the respective locations since the health department is running the school clinics as private “third party” VAMS clinics.

Recipients will be able to schedule their second dose appointments for March 27 or April 3 after they have received their first dose using the same offline booking method.

Saranich said the same clinics will run again in Shelton 21 days later on March 27.