Above: Holly was one of the two comfort dogs at the youth vaccine clinic at Swift Community Center Nov. 17.
The EG vaccine team was back together again Wednesday, Nov. 17, this time to provide vaccinations for around 150 children ages 5 to 11. As with the other clinics, this one was held at Swift Community Center but it looked a little different – with a comfort dog roaming around and a large screen TV set up playing a children’s movie, as well as lots of kids.
The different milieu was geared toward that younger clientele. Upon check in, each child received a small stuffed animal and when they got to their vaccine spot, they were given a fidget spinner to keep them occupied. The comfort dogs – Holly and Bill – were available as needed. After they got their shot, a smaller dose than is given to older recipients, the children received a treat bag and were able to spend the 15-minute waiting period watching the movie and checking out the treats (playdough, crayons and a snack bar).
According to Meadowbrook first grader Michaela Calderone, 6, the shot was no big deal. In fact, she said, “It tickled!”
She did have some advice for those who might be apprehensive: “They should hold a stuffed animal.”
“It’s gone extremely well,” said clinic medical director Herbert (Hub) Brennan. “We prepared for the worst, hoped for the best and we’ve gotten the best.”
Parent Abigail Marcaccio said agreed, noting via email that the clinic was “incredibly smooth and easy. No wait, everyone was friendly, very child centered, lots of snacks and little toys for kids. So very grateful the town offers this.”
Pediatrician Patricia Flanagan said she had had a light workload during the clinic – ”Hub’s got things down pat. It is so well organized here.” She said her main role had been to answer questions and help out when there were particularly nervous children.
For Flanagan, the clinic symbolized something bigger.
“Getting the 5 to 11 year olds vaccinated is such a triumph. What these kids have been through – to get them a little bit safer and a little bit more normal, less quarantine, less restrictions, that’s what they need,” she said.
A second dose clinic will be held Dec. 9 at Swift.
Town Manager Andy Nota expressed his gratitude for everyone involved.
“I would like to personally thank the town staff and volunteers that have supported this clinic as well as many of the others that we’ve held over the months. This local approach has truly taken the edge off this process for many as well as providing for a familiar, accessible, and convenient environment for what could be an uncomfortable and/or stressful situation for some.”