Supply limits Ridgefield's ability to vaccinate teachers

RIDGEFIELD — The amount of people who can now get the COVID vaccine vastly grew on March 1, but officials say that hasn’t changed the number of vaccines the state is sending to Ridgefield.

As of Monday, those working in schools, including teachers and staff, are eligible to receive the vaccine along with the age group of 55 and over.

Health Director Ed Briggs said that as the town gets the vaccine, teachers will be vaccinated. There will most likely be clinics specifically for teachers and possibly daycare centers and private schools, which are also included in the eligible population.

But the process is not that simple. Briggs said it’s up to the state to distribute the vaccine and now, “we’re not getting anything additional for the schools.”

“We can do it if they give us the vaccine, if they don’t give us the vaccine, we can’t do it,” he said. “It’s all going to disadvantaged socio-economic towns right now. Once they open it up, we’ll be able to get it done.”

He said there are other vaccine options coming to the area, including the Community Health Center in Danbury later this week, which will be a six-lane mass vaccination center.

Briggs said “things are going well” though.

“We could always use more vaccines, the more vaccines the better,” he said. “We basically got an 11 station vaccination center, we’ve been using maybe six of the stations every week. Instead of operating five days a week, which we could, we’re operating two days a week because of the lack of vaccines that’s being allocated to us.”

Some of the school’s 700 or so employees have already been vaccinated based on previous eligibility groups, Superintendent Susie Da Silva said.

“We are still working on the clinic, but in the meantime we are balancing some clinic visits,” she said.

School employees are able to sign up through the district or on their own through the Vaccine Administration Management System, Da Silva said.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said that while the governor made the decision to prioritize teachers, the state didn’t allocate any additional vaccines for them. Marconi said this creates some difficulties.

“We have people who need a second dose and you can’t put them off, they have to receive their second doses,” he said. “Then, people who were already in the system can’t be canceled.”

He said the RVNAhealth, which has been running the town’s clinics, received 400 doses this week. Of that “quite a few” are meant for people’s second doses, which is also the case for the upcoming weeks.

“You have to provide that,” Marconi said.

He says they’re getting there, but could use the state’s help.

“We need their help in explaining to people that this is going to take time,” Marconi said. “You can’t get it done in two or three weeks. This is a month at least in getting these people vaccinated because without teachers, we were looking at a cohort with the 55 plus of about 540,000 people give or take. You put teachers on top of that and you don’t have the vaccines, we just don’t have the vaccines to address that many people.”