One shot vaccine helping Meriden’s underserved stay clear of coronavirus

MERIDEN — A Derby hospital is helping city residents get about 750 first-come, first-serve COVID-19 vaccinations with three-day clinics at two downtown locations this week.

Griffin Hospital staff distributed the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the Meriden YMCA on West Main Street and at the Augusta Cultural Center on East Main Street opposite City Hall on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

As of Thursday afternoon, both sites were on their way to distributing the vaccine, with plans to distribute all 750 doses by Friday, said Steve Markoja, the YMCA’s branch director.

Organized by the state Department of Public Health, one of the goals of the clinics is to help Meriden’s most underserved downtown residents get vaccinated. They are using Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine because a single-dose is the most efficient way to serve the most people, said Belen Michelis, a city government spokesperson. 

Lines outside the YMCA ran 40 to 50 people long when the clinics opened at both locations from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with interested residents phoning the Y as early as 6:30 a.m., Markoja said.

“It’s been busy and very efficient,” Markoja said Thursday. “First thing in the morning it was very very steady with a large influx of people. It mellows at one or two o’clock and we are beginning to see an uptick again as people get out of school and work.”

City leaders were glad to be able to put together the clinics so quickly after learning about the opportunity on Monday, said Lea Crown, director of Meriden Health and Human Services Department.

“The more vaccines we can provide to Meriden residents, the better, and we are happy to partner with any agency that wants to come in,” Crown said.

The clinics were open to any Meriden resident age 18 and older, Crown said.

Another Johnson & Johnson vaccination distribution clinic, this time thanks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be held in Meriden from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 24-25, Crown said.

Residents interested in attending should look for information on the city health department website and social media outlets, Crown said.

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