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Article Published January 6, 2021

Front Lines Are First in Line for COVID Vaccine in Branford

By Staff report

As the year 2020 closed, vaccines with the promise of ending the coronavirus and its tremendous human, social, and economic costs were administered to the area’s front-line emergency responders and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel.

First responders from Branford, North Branford, Madison, Guilford, and East Haven were invited to Branford High School on Dec. 30 for a vaccine clinic hosted by the East Shore District Health Department (ESDHD) in partnership with the Madison Health Department.

A similar Dec. 29 clinic for EMS and first responders in Guilford and Madison was held at the Madison Town Campus. ESDHD staff nurses and medically trained volunteers in the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) administered the vaccinations at both clinics.

ESDHD Emergency Preparedness Coordinator/Health Educator Daisy Hernandez said the vaccines are given in two doses, 28 days apart. Branford School Superintendent Hamlet Hernandez donated the use of Branford High School for the event with Branford Fire Chief Thomas Mahoney providing EMTs on duty in case of adverse reaction, of which none were reported.

The first doses of the vaccine arrived at the Branford office on Dec. 23, according to an ESDHD press release.

“This is the most promising step forward, to date, in protecting our community through this pandemic,” said ESDHD Director Michael Pascucilla. “Our top-notch staff and the staff of other health departments across the state will be working to distribute vaccine as planned by the State Department of Public Health.”

Connecticut is currently in Phase 1a of vaccine roll-out, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Those eligible to receive the vaccine, based on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations, in Phase 1a are:

Healthcare Personnel: All paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients of infectious materials.

Long Term Care Facility Residents: Adults who reside in facilities that provide a range of services, including medical and personal care, to persons who are unable to live independently.

First Responders at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their response to medical emergencies such as emergency medical technicians, police, and fire.

Phase 1a does not include healthcare personnel who do not have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.

When additional doses of the vaccine become available, the state anticipates that those eligible for vaccination in upcoming phases between January and May will include critical workforce, other congregate settings, adults over 65, and high-risk individuals under 65.

ESDHD’s goal is for all residents to have access to the vaccination, although this will likely not occur until late spring or early summer 2021.

The ESDHD reminds everyone to remain diligent in following guidelines to slow the spread of the virus. These measures will help protect our community against a widespread outbreak:

• Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when out in public.

• Adhere to a minimum six-foot social distancing from others.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Quarantine for at least 10 days if you are in contact with someone who is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19

• Stay home if you are sick except to get medical care.

• Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and for at least 20 seconds.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands after.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

For the most current updates and recommendations, visit portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus.