Ridgefield School Administrators Set Up Mobile Immunization Clinic For Children 5-11 Years Old

RIDGEFIELD – Students aged 5 to 11 may soon have the chance to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at East Ridge Middle School.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 5 to 11 earlier this month. With 56,000 children vaccinated in the past three weeks, Connecticut has vaccinated 20% of children in this age group, double the national average.

The state departments of public health and education have partnered to offer on-site clinics in Connecticut schools. These clinics are run either by school health centers or by special mobile teams specially trained to administer vaccines to young children, according to a press release from the DPH.

Ridgefield administrators discussed setting up a mobile vaccination clinic in the district during Monday night’s Education Council meeting.

The district did not provide such a clinic when the same permission was granted for 12 to 17 year olds, as there was a greater presence of mass vaccination clinics in surrounding areas at the time, the said. Superintendent Susie Da Silva.

School officials sent a survey to parents on Tuesday to gauge interest in the program.

“We really don’t have a full understanding of… what the need is,” Da Silva said. “So we (want)… to get a feel for our community if they can get appointments with their pediatrician – if they want – or if they’re having trouble finding an access point. “

If the district determines a need for the program based on the results of the survey, it will invite Griffin Health Services to set up a mobile vaccination clinic in the East Ridge Middle School cafeteria. The health care provider is also partnering with the Department of Public Health to coordinate free clinics statewide.

The clinic would operate outside of school hours from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Da Silva said. School administrators would handle the registration process and Griffin’s medical staff would administer the vaccines.

The supplier could start giving the first and second doses of the vaccine to Ridgefield’s 5 to 11-year-old children as early as November 30, Da Silva said. A follow-up clinic would be held on Dec. 21 for those who need a second dose, district nursing coordinator Aaron Crook said.

“The mobile vaccination clinic is coming, they are setting up… and we are just helping to provide a place for families where they can choose to vaccinate their children if they wish,” added Crook.

Much of the board seemed receptive to the idea and noted that they appreciated keeping parenting choice at the forefront of the agenda. Board member Selina Bell said it would be especially helpful for working parents.

“I am happy that the administration is organizing this convenience, and that is really what it is, for parents who might want to vaccinate their children,” she added.

Board member Sean McEvoy expressed concern about the administration of vaccines by Griffin Health Services. He cited a class action lawsuit against Griffin Hospital in Derby; he alleges that nurses there inappropriately administered insulin to patients using multidose insulin pens.

“I think we need to understand what controls they’ve put in place since then and make sure that can’t happen again,” he said.

In an email to Da Silva, Board member Elizabeth Floegel, who was not present at the meeting, asked if the district had considered the impact the clinic would have on local pharmacies already offering the vaccines for this age group.

A representative for Bissell Pharmacy in Ridgefield said the company only offers Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to people 18 years of age and older; Only some Rite Aid and CVS Pharmacy facilities offer COVID vaccines for children in this age group.

Ridgefield’s COVID positivity rate was 1.8% on Monday.

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