New Milford, Danbury begin clinics to vaccinate school staff, child care workers

Photo of Currie Engel

NEW MILFORD — The town was set to open its first clinic for teacher vaccinations at the John Pettibone Community Center on Saturday, according to health director Lisa Morrissey.

“I’m really excited,” Morrissey said. “I think that it really is important for the community.”

In it’s first three weeks, the clinic will be a “closed clinic” meaning that the town is not taking appointments through the federal Vaccine Administration Management System, (VAMS), but rather targeting specific groups in the community to get their vaccines. In the first two weeks Morrissey said she expects to complete public school staff and daycare provider vaccinations, and following that, the clinic will start to vaccinate any stragglers from group 1b — residents over 65 who have yet to be vaccinated.

Mayor Pete Bass said that getting teachers and students safely back in classrooms is a priority.

In their first seven days of clinics, New Milford has been able to schedule 62 percent of their Pre-K through 12th grade teachers and early childhood providers. The first 500 doses will be administered on Saturday, with another 600 more education workers already scheduled in the first half of next week, making a total of 1,100 appointments, Morrissey said.

“When I say it’s been busy, it’s been busy,” she said.

Since officially stepping into her new role as health director last month, Morrissey has been busy getting this clinic up and running. She had heard that residents were frustrated about having to schedule appointments outside of New Milford, and worked with the mayor, senior services, Nuvance Health, New Milford hospital, over 100 local volunteers, and other partners to make their hometown clinic a reality.

Across the state, other towns and cities have also ramped up efforts to get their teachers and school staff vaccinated now that they’ve been made eligible.

Danbury Health Department planned to vaccinate 900 public school educators on Friday and Saturday at clinics at Rogers Park Middle School. The Friday clinic ran from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., while the Saturday clinic was planned for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s been a great effort from many volunteers and our staff to get through so many of our teachers in this short window,” city spokeswoman Taylor O’Brien said in an email.

All Danbury Public School teachers who want a vaccine will receive their first dose by the end of next week, she said. The city also plans to hold smaller-scale clinics for educators at the city’s private schools, she said.

After these priority groups are vaccinated, Bass said New Milford aims to open their clinic for appointments through VAMS. The location will serve as a regional hub at that point, with vaccine appointments made available to residents in nearby towns, as well.

“Those are all like win-win-wins in my book,” said Bass.

The clinic will be administering all three vaccines — Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson — and pending receipt of adequate supply from the state, they could eventually have the capacity to hit between 1,200 and 1,500 vaccinations per day at the clinic, Bass said.

“And that’s if — that’s the big if — we get the vaccine,” he said.

Educators in Newtown will be vaccinated on Saturday at Newtown High School. The Connecticut Institute for Communities' Greater Danbury Community Health Center is hosting the clinic, in coordination with the local school district and health department. Eligible Newtown teachers and education staff have been enrolled through the district, and all available slots are filled. A second-dose clinic will follow in about four weeks.

With additional reporting by Julia Perkins.