Though COVID cases are declining, the effort to get people vaccinated continues.
The Black Horse Pike Regional School District joined the effort by partnering with Inspira Health Network to provide the Pfizer shot to students and their families on May 20 and 21. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent update that those 12 and older can receive the COVID vaccine, more people than ever are eligible.
Inspira was at Triton Regional High School on the 20th and at Highland and Timber Creek high schools on the 21st.
Superintendent Dr. Brian Repici reported that 614 people had registered to be vaccinated, with 220 at Triton and 197 at both Highland and Timber Creek. Most of the registrants were students learning both in person and remotely.
The superintendent had waited a long time for such an event.
“I’ve been trying to develop a partnership with any health network or pharmacy for at least two months now,” he said. “And because at the time, Pfizer was the only vaccine available to children of 16 years and older, that limited who was able to provide the vaccination services.”
Repici was aware that several other school districts had been able to coordinate vaccinations and wanted to give his students the same opportunity. Though he reached out to Camden County, it did not offer Pfizer. He also contacted Virtua at the Moorestown Mall Vaccine site, but thought that busing so many students to the site would be inconvenient. In the end, a nurse connected Repici with Ed Dix, the director of pharmacy at Inspira Health Network, and they worked out a plan on how to vaccinate students and family members at each of the district’s three high schools.
Since Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order in April to allow off-site vaccinations, Inspira has worked with 13 schools to get shots to 846 students across Salem, Gloucester and Cumberland counties.
“We wanted to be able to bring our vaccine out into the community, because we had been at our PODs for so long,” explained Dix. “We’d been operating PODs (Point of Dispensary) in Mullica and Vineland since Jan. 15, and we got a lot of requests to come out to places to try and reduce barriers for people to get the vaccines. As our numbers went down, in terms of the number of appointments that were being made and people coming in, even though we switched ourselves to take walk-ups, it was just easier for us to go out in the community and get more people vaccinated.
“I sent an email to all of the principals in all three counties,” he added, “and that’s where we’ve gone from here.”
Inspira will be back on June 10 and June 14 to administer second doses. The nonprofit has centers in Mullica Hill, Vineland, Woodbury and Bridgeton.
Walk-in vaccinations are available. Inspira will host vaccine clinics from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 26, at the Woodbury and Bridgeton locations. More information can be found at https://www.inspirahealthnetwork.org/coronavirus-covid-2019/covid-19-vaccine.
For other schools or organizations interested in scheduling large-group vaccinations, call Dix at (856) 508-2126.