Boyertown SD vaccines

Boyertown School District staff set up a vaccine clinic at Boyertown High School. More than 200 district staff members received the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday through the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy.

On Wednesday, 243 staff members in the Boyertown School District got their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine thanks to a local pharmacy.

Acting Superintendent Marybeth Torchia said the district was recently approached by Ed Hudon, owner of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Boyertown, who was looking for an efficient way to distribute doses of vaccine he was receiving.

The pharmacy and school district collaborated, Torchia said, and within days a plan was hatched to use the library at the high school as a vaccine clinic.

School nurses and other staff members were utilized to help operate the clinic — doing things like helping people keep 6 feet away from others and monitoring patients for the required 15 minutes after getting the shot — with Hudon doing the actual injecting.

The staff members who received the vaccine were all in the state's Phase 1A category, a group that includes anyone over 65 and those with certain existing health issues.

Torchia said it was a relief to be able to vaccinate at least some staff members, particularly with the district slowly increasing the number of in-person classes it's holding. Both the elementary school and high schools have recently moved to four in-person days a week from two, and the middle school will do so on Feb. 16.

"I wish I could get them all in one fell swoop," she said. "But at least we're starting."

Hudon said the idea to partner with the school district was based on accessibility, saying the high school was the "ideal location" to safely hold a vaccine clinic. The process went smoothly, he said.

"It was great, we were able to get down a workflow that was really exemplary," he said. "Now that we tested it out I'm excited about doing more. I think we could double the capacity in the same amount of time.

"It was just a great all-around feeling," he added. "It was great to see hope in people's eyes."

And doing more clinics at the high school is the plan, when doses are available.

Hudon said he has been advocating for seniors, trying to find ways to make sure the eldest members of the community can access the vaccine. Holding clinics at the high school is a great way to do that.

Torchia is on board, too. She said the district is planning to open up the high school as a community vaccination site on Wednesdays and Sundays.

But at the moment, Hudon doesn't have the vaccine doses to make that happen.

With requests for doses across the state more than doubling the amount Pennsylvania is receiving, there's simply not enough to go around. Hudon said he's disappointed in the situation, but understands that everyone is doing their best to make the vaccine available as quickly as possible.

"The challenge right now is not having enough, which is nobody's fault," he said. "You can't bleed a stone."

Hudon said he wishes that he could count on regular shipments of the vaccine, saying if he knew he was getting 500 a week he could dole out 100 at his shop and give the rest at clinics. For the time being, however, he just has to wait and see.

"When we get them we give them out," he said. "We don't hoard them, we don't stagnate them."

Hudon said that when he does get a new shipment he should be able to set up a clinic at the high school quickly. The clinics will be open to his patients and patients referred by local doctors and vaccines will be administered by appointment.

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