WALLINGFORD — Doors opened an hour early Wednesday for the second in a series of local COVID-19 booster vaccine clinics planned by Hartford HealthCare with partner agencies.
About 50 people were waiting outside the Wallingford Senior Center at 12:30 p.m., the advertised start time of the clinic.
Wallingford Health Director Stephen Civitelli was directing the gathered crowd of mostly senior citizens into two lines — one for people seeking the Pfizer-BioNTech shot and one for people seeking Moderna.
Starting at 11:30 a.m., medical staff from Hartford HealthCare administered Pfizer vaccines, while Wallingford health department staff and fire department paramedics administered Moderna vaccines.
It was a significant change from the way the first booster vaccine clinic operated on Oct. 27, which was also at the senior center, after complaints were made about long lines of seniors waiting outside in overcast weather with intermittent rain.
Civitelli said the “heavy demand” necessitated two groups operating side by side. He added that he anticipated 200 to 300 people would receive shots Wednesday.
“I feel pretty confident that we’ll be able to manage the line,” he said. “No one will be turned away today.”
Tina Varona, Hartford HealthCare spokesperson, said Wednesday that a total of 82 people received COVID-19 boosters from Hartford HealthCare nurses during the Oct. 27 clinic, “which is right around our expected volume. ”
“We are so proud to partner with our communities to bring care where it is needed more,” she said. “This is a great partnership with Wallingford.”
Varona said that Civitelli and Hartford HealthCare worked together to mitigate wait times.
“The health department is supplementing staffing for the next couple of clinics,” she said. “We are on site at the senior center and want to be able to accommodate for walk-ins as well as online pre-registration. The partnership best allows for planning for both.”
Civitelli said the side-by-side clinics was a good system that benefited everyone.
“They (Hartford HealthCare) offer Pfizer and we typically don’t,” he said. “We’ve used Moderna the whole way through, so it gives us some options.”
Hartford Healthcare plans to offer both Pfizer and Moderna at upcoming booster vaccination clinics scheduled for 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Wallingford Public Library — which also will offer dual clinics in the Community and Collins rooms — 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Wallingford Family YMCA eastside branch, 81 S. Elm St.
The clinics are walk-in, with no appointment needed. Civitelli said when the town ran initial vaccine clinics at the beginning of the year, the appointment process created problems.
“Appointments are very difficult to do,” he said, “because you have a lot of cancellations, no shows, and it was disrupting the system. Hartford Healthcare had gone to a walk-in model, so we tried to honor that, and then scale up the operation so that we can meet the needs.”
Booster doses are available to people meeting criteria determined by the FDA and CDC.
Those who received Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are eligible for a booster dose if they are age 65 or older, or age 18 or older and living in long-term care, or have underlying medical conditions, or living in high-risk settings, starting six months after receiving a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
Those who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen single-dose vaccine are eligible for a booster dose if they are age 18 or older, at least two months after receiving the shot.
Several pharmacies in the area are offering COVID-19 vaccines, including Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS. To find a vaccine provider, go to www.vaccines.gov.
The Town of Wallingford’s website will provide any Health Department updates. For specific questions regarding COVID-19, please contact the Wallingford Health Department at 203-294-2065.