Lois Chicano, a retired nurse and volunteer, administers a COVID-19 vaccine shot to resident Gary Arndt (right) at the Prospect Senior Center in Prospect, Connecticut on Feb. 23, 2021. “It’s exhausting but it’s also very rewarding,” Chicano said. “They’re (the residents) so appreciative of the work we’re doing.”

Bringing Vaccines to Local Seniors

Visuals and remarks from a Connecticut vaccine clinic going above and beyond to help its community.

Photos and text by Daniel Passapera

Connecticut seniors certainly face difficulties when it comes to scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments in a digital age. However, what if the vaccines were brought to them without the hassle of wait times, potential exposure and URLs?

Mayor Robert J. Chatfield, also known as “Mayor Bob” stops by to check in on residents receiving the vaccine at the Prospect Senior Center in Prospect on Feb. 23, 2021. Chatfield is the longest-tenured elected official in the state.

On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Chesprocott Health District (CHD) sought to ease these issues by opening a clinic only available to residents 65 and older in Prospect. Rather than operating based on users seeking appointments, the Prospect Senior Center solicited calls to all seniors living in town offering them the opportunity to be vaccinated. Local transportation was available as well; it was made as simple as showing up, filling out the necessary paperwork and waiting a few minutes for your name to be called.

“I saw through the data from pool and from also the governor’s data, is that my seniors up in Prospect were not getting vaccinated,” said Maura Esposito, Director of Health at CHD. “It made more impetus for me to come up to their hometown.”

Maura Esposito, Director of Health for Chesprocott (right) and volunteer Laurie Scheiner, a retired pediatrician, discuss vaccine operations at the Prospect Senior Center in Prospect on Feb. 23, 2021.

The U.S Census Bureau estimates Prospect has an above-average senior population; nearly 20% of residents over the age of 65 make up the town’s population while only 17.7% make up the state overall.

“In public health, it’s all about need. Where is the need? You have to go to the need,” Esposito said.

Starting at 10 a.m local seniors arrived steadily to the clinic at the Prospect Senior Center, and as quickly as they entered they exited.

Over 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine were administered to seniors at the Prospect Senior Center in Prospect on Feb. 23, 2021.

They received the Moderna vaccine which features an 86% efficacy rate for those over the age of 65. According to Esposito, this clinic was able to hold and distribute nearly 100 vaccines within three and a half-hours.

Throughout the day the ambiance of the operation resonated one of importance and hope with overwhelming support from the community.

Gary Arndt, 77, talks with a volunteer as he’s seated for 15 minutes after receiving his COVID-19 vaccine at the Prospect Senior Center in Prospect on Feb. 23, 2021. After vaccination residents must wait 15 minutes in case of an allergic reaction. Those who experience a reaction are given medical attention by paramedics and are required to stay at least 30 minutes.

“I think it’s very important for everyone to get it (the vaccine) when the opportunity comes. It’s a terrific thing,” said Gary Arndt, 77, a retired chemical engineer and Prospect resident of over 50 years.

For many of the volunteers, this operation is personal, as they try to help a community and state that has already lost over 7,500 lives to the pandemic.

Robert Majeski, prepares viles with the Moderna vaccine at the Prospect Senior Center in Prospect on Feb. 23, 2021.

“To be a part of this solution, for me as an infection control nurse, you may be retired but once a nurse always a nurse,” said retired nurse Robert Majeski. “This is really important for me as a person and as a nurse to be a part of the solution.”

The CHD is planning to hold more localized vaccine clinics as it serves the towns of Cheshire and Wolcott, both of which report a higher senior population than the state average as well.

Teddy Harye (left), 77, receives a COVID-19 vaccine from RN Lorraine Brandolini, a volunteer, at the Prospect Senior Center in Prospect on Feb. 23, 2021.

According to Connecticut’s Department of Health, 62% of residents over the age of 65 have been vaccinated with the first dose. Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott are among the towns with the highest rate of overall first doses per population.

Volunteer Laurie Scheiner (left) checks in on, Delyse Fernandez, 71, who received her COVID-19 vaccine at the Prospect Senior Center in Prospect on Feb. 23, 2021. “I feel I owe it to myself and to those around me to protect myself and those around me from the virus,” said Fernandez.

With the help of the CHD, volunteers and a headstrong community the sights are set on bringing back normalcy to local residents.

“I want to be sure that everybody in the community is safe. Hopefully, it’ll get us back to a little bit more of the normal life,” said Lorraine Brandolini, a volunteer and nurse anesthetist for Middlesex Hospital.

Lorraine Brandolini, a volunteer and nurse anesthetist, smiles with a patient at the Prospect Senior Center in Prospect on Feb. 23, 2021.

If you have any questions regarding local clinics or want to show your appreciation, you can reach out to the Chesprocott Health District at http://www.chesprocott.org/, by phone at 203–272–2761, or on Facebook and Instagram.

Quinnipiac ’23 | Photojournalist | Creative Storyteller | Photographer at Quinnipiac University | Connecticut based — 06410 | https://linktr.ee/danpass19

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