NORWALK, Conn. — A mass vaccination effort for Norwalk teachers, educators, and childcare professionals took a giant leap forward Wednesday with a closed vaccination clinic for Norwalk Public Schools staff.
“We’re very excited to be here,” Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella said at a Wednesday press event marking the vaccination drive at Brien McMahon High School, where comments touched on the reluctance many people feel toward getting vaccinated.
“I think we should do some ‘hip hip hoorays’ or something,” Norwalk Association of School Administrators (NASA) President Lynne Moore said.
Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story
“Teachers will continue with the same precautionary measures to keep people safe at school. But the vaccines will make a big difference. We are relieved to be seeing the end of an endless loop of work, quarantine-work, quarantine-work. And even worse, we don’t want to ever see the single stretch of work-quarantine-illness-work,” Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon said.
More than 300 NPS staff members were going to be vaccinated Wednesday, Estrella said. Moderna shots were administered.
Gov. Ned Lamont recently expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to include teachers, educators, and childcare professionals. The clinic is a collaboration between the Norwalk Health Department, Norwalk Community Health Center, the City and NPS, Norwalk Communications Manager Josh Morgan said.
“We’ll continue to host them as long as there’s the demand and the need for the vaccine. And we’re also hosting clinics for childcare providers and others that are eligible at this point,” Norwalk Director of Health Deanna D’Amore said.
NPS is hoping to vaccinate 2,000 employees, in addition to personnel from the other facilities that coordinate with the schools, and most of the appointments are booked, Estrella said.
“Our goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible. I’ve been vaccinated myself already. And I understand the importance of that, I think the science speaks for itself,” she said.
Moore said she feels very excited to have gotten vaccinated, both the first and second shots, and the end appears to be in sight.
“Vaccines themselves provide hope. They require trust. Just like believing that spring will come. These post-COVID days will come but only if we vaccinate as many as possible,” Yordon said.
Yet, Yordon said she hasn’t been vaccinated herself. She could not be vaccinated as a child due to health concerns, though her four siblings were, and, “as an adult, I was finally able to be vaccinated,” she explained. She’s “just been vaccinated against shingles so it’s no big deal. I’m also still post COVID. So I have a little immunization and it’s no hurry. I’m following the advice of my medical provider as everyone should and I will get the COVID vaccine on the proper timeline for my own health needs.”
“I encourage the entire school community and the community as appropriate to take advantage of the historic scientific efforts that helped to provide the vaccine itself. We thank the people who brought the vaccine here today… we are really grateful, especially to the health department,” Yordon said.
Norwalk Chief of Social Services Lamond Daniels said teachers are important role models. The City will be calling on the church community to help convince people to get the vaccine “so the community can see all different sectors and all different people, people they see every day are also getting a vaccine. I myself have my vaccine.”
“I think there’s a lot of people who think, ‘I’m pretty healthy, I’m not going to get sick. None of my friends got sick when they got COVID.’ And that’s true for the majority of people,” Marcelyn Molloy, M.D., Norwalk Community Health Center Chief Medical Officer said. “However, not having our kids be educated in person, we can’t continue this way of life. In order for us to open our schools and educate our youth, we need to have everyone get this vaccine.”
The vaccine came out “phenomenally” fast because “we poured every ounce of resource we had to do it,” she said. “I understand if you think that you may not get sick, and you’d be OK if you don’t get vaccinated. But this is about us not wearing masks anymore. This is about our playgrounds being open, they were shut down, kids didn’t have a place to run around. This is about us being healthy in the future. Because our lifestyle is being so unbelievably restricted right now in ways that are affecting us psychologically.”
And, she said, “We have a window of opportunity to get the vaccine. The virus is mutating the vaccine still works right now. The longer we wait to get vaccinated, the more likely the virus is going to mutate. And the less likely the vaccine will work.”