Courtesy Photo - @HamptonNHFD on Twitter
Hampton firefighters prepare the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for administration at a vaccine clinic on Saturday, March 20.
On Saturday, March 20, more than 160 Winnacunnet faculty received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine through a vaccine clinic at the school. Through a joint collaboration of SAU 21, SAU 90, and Hampton’s Sacred Heart School, teachers and staff from all three districts were able to receive the vaccine if they opted to.
Winnacunnet Principal William McGowan was among the staff that were vaccinated at the clinic. He said all staff members who wanted to receive the vaccine were able to receive it, and he described the clinic process organized and “smooth.”
“I couldn’t see smiles because of the masks, but I think everybody was excited,” McGowan said. “No issues at all… overall, I think everything went well.”
According to McGowan, the vaccine was offered to approximately 220 staff members that work in the building, but some had already previously qualified and been vaccinated. In her weekly “family communication” letter, SAU 21 Interim Superintendent Dr. Caroline Arakelian described the clinic’s operation as a “huge success.” Winnacunnet art teacher Laurel Larivee agreed with Arakelian’s assessment.
“The whole process was very smooth, and the actual shot for me, I didn’t even feel it,” Larivee said. “I wanted to make sure that I was staying healthy and staying safe, not only for myself, but for my family, as well as the school community.”
Another clinic, planned for April 17, will host the same staff for their required second dose vaccinations. Although the clinic is planned for a Saturday, the second dose may result in increased teacher absences due to the potentially more intense side effects associated with it.
“The after-effects were pretty intensified for me, my arm was sore for probably two to three days,” Larivee said of the first dose, typically the milder one.
Concord High School was closed for the day on March 22 after staff members received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine the day prior, and too many staff members called out sick. According to Arakelian, at this time no similar plans are being made here at Winnacunnet to preemptively deal with the possibility of such a situation.
“We are optimistic that the 42-46 hours between the vaccinations and the start of school on Monday provides ample time to recover for the vast majority of individuals,” Arakelian said. “I believe the districts where there were an abundance of absences held second dose vaccinations on the Sunday prior to school.”
Larivee said “pretty much” everybody she has talked to who had the opportunity to receive the vaccine did so. She said this will have a positive effect on the Winnacunnet community, but it will take time.
“I know that a lot of teachers are feeling much more comfortable coming back, especially the ones that were fully remote,” Larivee said. “We’re all sort of checking in on each other to make sure we’re [getting the vaccine].”
Hampton firefighters administered the Moderna vaccine to teachers through a clinic set up in the gymnasium. In an interview with WMUR, Arakelian thanked local agencies and the firefighters for organizing the event. Larivee expressed her gratitude as well.
“[They] were so crucial in getting it all set up for us, and they were wonderful,” Larivee said.