650 COVID vaccines set aside for Norwalk students at weekend clinic

Photo of Abigail Brone
Mallory Bates, an RN at Norwalk Hospital, center, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Elizabeth Jackson during a Norwalk Health Department mass vaccination clinic for people 45 years and older at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, Conn., on Saturday Mar. 20, 2021. Looking on is Elizabeth's granddaughter Jessica Jackson. This drive is expected to vaccinate as many as 1,000 people.

Mallory Bates, an RN at Norwalk Hospital, center, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Elizabeth Jackson during a Norwalk Health Department mass vaccination clinic for people 45 years and older at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, Conn., on Saturday Mar. 20, 2021. Looking on is Elizabeth's granddaughter Jessica Jackson. This drive is expected to vaccinate as many as 1,000 people.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

NORWALK — When Norwalk students roll up to get their COVID vaccines in Stamford this weekend, there will be about plenty of doses waiting for them.

At Sunday’s vaccination clinic, a partnership between city schools and Community Health Center, there’s availability for 650 Norwalk high schoolers ages 16 and older to receive the vaccine.

As of Wednesday evening, just under 300 Norwalk students registered for the event, CHC Regional Vice President Amy Taylor said.

The clinic came about after Taylor contacted the city in the hopes of organizing a mass vaccination clinic specifically for Norwalk public school students.

“Originally I reached out to them and said, ‘We are locking our schedules to create the opportunity for your students to come in and get vaccinated,’” Taylor said.

Two dates were set aside for the clinics — April 11 and April 24, both from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. — at the CHC clinic already established in the parking lot of the former Lord & Taylor in Stamford.

The location was chosen as it was previously set up and prepared to accommodate many vaccine recipients, Taylor said.

“We have infrastructure there,” Taylor said. “We do about 2,000 people a day, seven days a week, so we have the whole system set up there to very efficiently move lots of people through to get them vaccinated.”

Aside from the few appointments scheduled at the Stamford clinic prior to the organizing of the student clinic at the location, the only vaccine recipients at the event Sunday will be Norwalk students, Taylor said.

Both Sunday and the April 24 clinics have a capacity of 650 vaccination appointments, Taylor said. As of Wednesday, 54 people registered for the April 24 clinic.

“There are 1,300 seniors, so we know that not all of them will want to be vaccinated,” Taylor said. “Many, might have already gotten the vaccine somewhere else.”

The partnership between CHC and NPS will be the first of its kind, with Danbury and Stamford schools scheduled for various weekends in April as well, Taylor said.

Initially, the clinic was open solely to Norwalk seniors, but was expanded to include any NPS students 16 and older once the number of available Pfizer vaccines was established, Taylor said. The Pfizer vaccine will be administered at the clinic as it is the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in people under 18.

Moderna is working on testing their vaccine on younger children as well, Taylor said.

No negative side effects or health concerns were identified in giving people under 18 the vaccine, Taylor said.

“I think we would all hear about that very broadly, if there had been,” she said. “There are people who have a history of allergic reactions but nothing that is outside of what would be documented in terms of potential reactions.”

Students under 18 registering for the clinic require guardian permission, but once it is granted on the registration form, the guardian does not need to be present the day of the clinic, NPS spokesperson Brenda Wilcox Williams said.

Norwalk students from Norwalk High, Center for Global Studies, P-TECH Norwalk and Brien McMahon who are 16 and older are encouraged to register, according to a NPS statement. Students are also asked to bring their student ID to the vaccination site for their appointment.

Bus transportation from Brien McMahon and Norwalk High Schools to the clinic will be provided for district students that require it, Wilcox Williams said.

A bus departure time and location will be established once students select a vaccine appointment.

Alongside Norwalk high schoolers, some city teachers will be receiving the vaccine Sunday, including Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon.

“There were teachers, including myself, who were not able to be part of the initial vaccine clinic due to various health concerns,” Yordon said. “I am signed up for the clinic this weekend. It was offered and available to staff members who may have somehow not been able to be vaccinated in the first round.”

Norwalk’s teachers are excited at the prospect of students receiving the same access and protections that have given vaccinated teachers peace of mind, Yordon said.

“I was able to change my late April appointment to this Sunday, so I am really looking forward to getting my vaccine,” she added.

Additionally, Taylor hopes students will treat the vaccination clinic as a celebration by decorating cars, bringing banners and taking pictures.

abigail.brone@hearstmediact.com