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At Groton High School, It’s Algebra, Phys Ed . . . and a COVID Shot

May 07, 2021

Heather Hanson of Groton had to be at her daughter’s high school, Fitch, Friday at 8 a.m. for Hartford HealthCare’s vaccine clinic for students.

Sixteen-year-old Kimberly, a junior and varsity softball player, was scheduled for the shot, and is scared of needles.

“I told her I would come and hold her hand,” Heather said.

It turned out they held each other’s hands, as Heather was able to get the vaccine there as well, registering as a walk-in.

More than 70 high school students registered for the vaccine through their school-based health clinic, and they had capacity to deliver 100 shots, said Dr. William Horgan, Regional Medical Director of Quality & Safety for HHC’s East Region. More than one parent took advantage and also received the vaccine.

School administrators had reached out to him, Horgan said, because they wanted to provide vaccines to their students as soon as the Pfizer dose was approved for 16- and 17-year-olds. But their local health agency didn’t have enough Pfizer doses to accommodate the request, so HHC stepped up.

“Bringing the vaccines to Fitch High School fulfills all the promises that we have made to our communities about diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Horgan said. “The Groton School District is a very culturally diverse community, along with close to 50 percent of the student population receiving free or reduced price meals. Another special demographic that is unique to Groton is the large military population.

“Bringing the Pfizer vaccine to Fitch High School would highlight all the incredible work that has been accomplished by Hartford HealthCare in delivering the vaccine to those we care for. We have worked tirelessly to understand what barriers exist and develop strategies to overcome those barriers. One of those barriers is transportation. Some of the families do not have access to transportation to bring them to (mega-site) Foxwoods, but the students do have bus transportation to the schools, so bringing the vaccine to the school would help ensure that we vaccinate all those that want the vaccine.”

Yazmyn Beander, also a 16-year-old junior, signed up for the vaccine because “this is what I can contribute to stopping the progress of the virus.” She was glad to see her school host a clinic, adding “not everyone can go to a clinic somewhere. Here, it’s much more accessible.”

Stacy Buenaventura accompanied her 16-year-old daughter Evelyn to get her vaccine. With Evelyn vaccinated, that leaves just her 12-year-old daughter left. She said she looks forward to having that age group approved next, possibly as early as next week.

“This is putting us on the road to normal,” she said.

Kimberly Hanson said being back in school five days a week, playing softball, and now getting the vaccine “makes me happy. I’m so excited to get back to normal.”

Teens are invited to produce an “I Got the Shot Video Challenge” Public Service Announcement for possible use on local television. For details, click here.