U.S. Rep. Jim Himes visits Yanity Gym vaccination clinic in Ridgefield

RIDGEFIELD — U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, visited Ridgefield’s vaccination clinic at Yanity Gym on Thursday along with First Selectman Rudy Marconi, who was there to meet with volunteers, members of the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association and other members of the community.

Himes was introduced to the protocol community members follow when getting the vaccine, examined the Vaccine Administration Management System and spoke with volunteers who were dedicating their time to the clinic. Himes noted the success Ridgefield has had in administering vaccinations over the past two months.

Planning for Ridgefield’s vaccination clinic began last summer when the COVID-19 vaccine was being developed. RVNA, a 100-year-old organization, quickly became the town’s partner to administer doses locally. Having qualified as a COVID-19 official program provider by the state, RVNA was able to procure and administer the vaccine.

The association’s partnership with the town was immediately compatible. The town’s Health Department was already trained in providing mass vaccination clinics and would be responsible for the clinic, including logistics, operations and adherence to state regulations. RVNA oversaw the procurement and storage of the vaccine, the management of first- and second-dose appointments and provided trained nurses to administer the shots and monitor patients for reactions. The partners also secured special freezers to store the vials at the proper temperature.

Since Jan. 19, more than 5,000 Ridgefield residents have received their initial doses at Yanity Gym.

Yanity Gym was the perfect location to host a mass vaccination clinic since it’s large enough to house the necessary components; it’s also within the vicinity of RVNA’s location in town. The clinic includes 11 vaccination tables, registration areas, an observation area and can process more than 500 people per day based on the number of open testing stations.

Ridgefield’s Office of Emergency Management relies on an active Community Emergency Response Team to support its operations, which include policy group decision making, messaging, communications, logistics, drone searches and a very sophisticated computerized damage assessment program developed by CERTs.

At the Yanity Gym clinic, the town’s Community Emergency Response Team is responsible for manning all the logistical operations, coordinating and training volunteers. Response team members go through 20 hours of training in basic disaster response skills, and once sworn in, they continue to participate in drills such as fire safety and rescue and team organization.