Darien teachers to get second dose, seek way to vaccinate students

Darien Schools Superintendent Alan Addley with Alicia Casucci, head of nursing, and Darien teachers union president Joslyn DeLancey at Darien's teacher vaccine clinic in February. Darien teachers will be getting their second dose of Moderna on Saturday, April 3, just in time for spring break.

Darien Schools Superintendent Alan Addley with Alicia Casucci, head of nursing, and Darien teachers union president Joslyn DeLancey at Darien’s teacher vaccine clinic in February. Darien teachers will be getting their second dose of Moderna on Saturday, April 3, just in time for spring break.

Contributed photo

DARIEN — As the remainder of Connecticut residents are eligible for the vaccine as of April 1, with the priority of some medical conditions, Darien teachers are receiving their second dose this weekend.

And with those 16 and older now eligible as well, Darien Schools Superintendent Alan Addley, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, Alicia Casucci, director of nursing for the schools, and Darien Health Department Director David Knauf all said last week they would support a student vaccine clinic. However, there could be challenges along the way.

Increased COVID cases forced the high school to again switch to remote learning last Thursday. Board members during last week’s Board of Education meeting asked about the town working with the schools to vaccinate students as the high school tended to be most impacted by cases and quarantining.

Casucci said the district plans to work with the town’s health department, which has been conducting vaccine clinics. However, she said any arrangements would depend on the availability of vaccine and the demand.

One obstacle for the town to vaccinate 16- and 17-year-olds is Darien uses the Moderna vaccine, as it does not have the freezer facilities for Pfizer. Moderna is approved only for those 18 and over, while Pfizer can be given to people as young as 16.

On Tuesday, Knauf said the town has been looking at various options to vaccinate high school students but “the state has made it clear that clinics for schools should not be scheduled until the end of April or early May.”

“In the meantime, we are gathering information from the schools as to the number of students that might be eligible,” Knauf said.

He added there are logistical difficulties for us to administer vaccine to the schools because Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for use in the 16- to 18-year-olds.

“It has specific extremely low temperature storage requirements and only comes in batches of 1,170 doses, which is far more doses than eligible students,” Knauf said.

Knauf said the town has reached out to Stamford Health and New Canaan’s health director to suggest partnering in offering the vaccine to Darien students.