When the Cranbury School District Administration and School Board began the new year, momentum began to build for COVID-19 vaccination clinics accessible at Cranbury School.
School administration and board members would meet their goal of having a clinic and complement their efforts to vaccinate teachers and staff when a second-dose vaccination clinic ended at the school at the end of the month. of April.
“I think it was really gratifying to see our hope come true. The idea of being able to come to the schools and being able to provide the support to the staff on site and achieve that goal was just very gratifying, ”said Superintendent Susan Genco. “Some of the comments I heard from teachers indicated that they were happy that they didn’t have to travel far to get the vaccine. They could just come to the place where they work and receive one.
The district administration, seeking to organize on-site clinics in Cranbury Township, partnered with Penn Medicine Princeton Health for a mobile clinic, which was held on March 30 for the first doses of Moderna vaccine and a finished with the second doses on April 27.
“We had a pre-meeting with the staff at Penn Medicine to size the existing spaces and see what floor plans for each. By having it in two places, we were able to vaccinate more people, space the areas and respect social distancing, ”said Genco. “We were the first district to test this with Penn Medicine, so we tried to provide feedback that could have helped other districts. It was great to see the first day of the immunization clinic come to life. “
The Cranbury School gymnasium and auditorium were used to administer vaccines and monitor individuals for 15 minutes after receiving their dose.
“There is also a nursing desk available at all schools,” said Dana Hvisdock, clinical director of COVID-19 vaccination clinics for Penn Medicine Princeton Health. “If someone was not feeling well and needed to be taken out of the area, we would take them to the nursing office to treat them and do their blood pressure, check their heart rate and make sure they were okay. If we are not in a school, we will have a separate space to bring them. “
Genco, Board Chair Karen Callahan, Deputy Director Michele Waldron, and Penn Medicine Princeton Health’s wellness and community engagement staff noted that teamwork was the reason for a successful collaboration and the creation of a mobile clinic at the school.
“Having it on site really saved teachers and staff time. They were able to bypass the planning process by bringing them the vaccine, ”said Waldron. “I think this is useful in everything teachers do during this blended learning period. Anyone who wanted the vaccine and had not yet received it could get it. This on-site clinic also allowed people to register who might have had issues with technology and any other accessibility issues.
There would be 264 first doses administered at the clinic in March and 264 second doses in April. All assigned vaccine doses had been used on both days.
Once the second doses were completed, there would be no plans to return Penn Medicine for future clinics in the district.
By the time of the second clinic, Penn Medicine staff had visited 16 schools, including the College of New Jersey. They had administered approximately 2,500 doses to local public and private schools.
When Penn Medicine started the mobile vaccination clinics, the Cranbury School was the first location.
As Penn Medicine completed vaccinating local school teachers and staff through clinics, staff have branched out into more faith-based organizations and are seeking out underserved populations and seniors.
“We are contacting members of the community and looking to see if there is an interest for us to come and do the vaccination clinic. Once we have an interest expressed, we go out and take a site tour. Then we’re looking to see the large areas and spaces that are on the site, ”said Deborah Millar, director of community wellness and engagement. “We’re talking about what we need from the facility to get us started and let them know what we’re doing.”
A date and time are set and they get the registration, the list and everyone together to set up the site.
“People will be registered for a certain period. Then they get a consent that they then have to fill out from the CDC from there, they wait to get the shot, ”Millar added. “They wait to be called to the vaccinator and the vaccinator gives them the vaccine. They then wait around 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the allergic reactions, then they get their second date and leave. “
Penn Medicine Princeton Health visited locations in Mercer and Middlesex Counties, and also opened an initiative in Mercer County at the County Ice Skating Center on May 6 in partnership with county officials.
Penn Medicine’s partnership with the Cranbury School District would start with an idea from Callahan to send a communication to the hospital community about a potential partnership with the school district, which would turn out to be a good time. because the hospital was also looking for the same thing.
“I think the idea of a mobile vaccination site really started when the vaccines were approved in December and started with frontline health workers,” Callahan said. “Knowing that it was going to go live and that we had a lot of conversations at the start of the year, I think it was in January that we actually urged the governor to put educators first in the process. vaccination.
That’s why Susan (Genco) wrote a letter urging the governor to prioritize educators and get them vaccinated. Well, we thought, Penn Medicine is right down the street, let’s reach out, and within days Susan, Michele (Waldron) and I had a conversation with Deborah Millar and we got the ball rolling.
Teachers and staff at Cranbury School would not be the only ones who could receive a vaccine at the clinic, as invitations were made to other district teachers and staff at Princeton, Old Bridge, North Brunswick, Jamesburg and South Plainfield.
“When we spoke with the hospital, it was a really natural connection to have them talk to all the superintendents and administrators in Middlesex County, so that we could all work to make these mobile clinics exist,” said Genco. “This is really where the niches emerged, so if we had additional immunization windows, we could look to other districts in our county and beyond.”
Other invitations that were issued included members of the Cranbury Police Department, Cranbury residents who are teachers at other schools, brigadiers, members of the Cranbury Fire Department and Cranbury seniors .