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NEW FAIRFIELD/SHERMAN – First Selectman Pat Del Monaco of New Fairfield and First Selectman Don Lowe of Sherman are leading their towns’ efforts to vaccinate citizens, based on guidelines from both the CDC and State of Connecticut and availability of vaccines. Covid-19 vaccination clinics for Phases 1b and 1c will begin in February and March.

“We are currently in Phase 1a, which means that healthcare workers as well as firefighters, police, EMTs and paramedics in New Fairfield and Sherman are receiving their vaccinations,” said Del Monaco. “Both towns are working together to hold clinics for Phase 1b starting on or around February 1; according to current State guidance, those that can be vaccinated in this phase are frontline essential workers including teachers/school staff, child care providers, food service workers, grocery workers and other frontline workers to be defined by the State, as well as those who are 75 years and older,” she added.  (Registration for Phase 1b for non-town vaccination clinics will begin on Thursday, January 14). Beginning in March, when authorized by the State of Connecticut, seniors aged 65-74, persons with high-risk medical conditions and remaining essential workers can be vaccinated in town-sponsored clinics in Phase 1c. The Covid-19 vaccines will be free to everyone.

Dates and definitions of who is included can change in accordance with State guidance and vaccine availability, Del Monaco warned. The only way to sign-up for vaccination clinics will be through the electronic Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).  This online system is the gateway to make appointments for vaccination (at any clinic), collect relevant health information of those receiving the vaccine, manage vaccine inventories and share information about the vaccine itself.  All vaccinations will be done only by appointment using VAMS. There will be no walk-ins allowed.  Del Monaco and Lowe ask that family or friends reach out to citizens who are not computer literate and help them with this process when the time comes. New Fairfield and Sherman will also offer assistance through their senior citizen centers and other means possible, and the State recently indicated that they may have phone reservations for those without computer access.

For months, a working group comprised of New Fairfield and Sherman staff and volunteers, including the Director of Health, Directors of Emergency Management, an emergency responder, two medical doctors, a nurse, a public health specialist, a public information professional, IT specialists and New Fairfield Selectman Khris Hall and Sherman First Selectman Don Lowe have been meeting regularly to make sure clinics are properly established and information is and will be shared with the public. The vaccination effort will rely extensively on additional volunteers, both medical and nonmedical. If you are interested in volunteering, please send an email to nfvolunteers@newfairfield.org and include how you can help along with your contact information.

The towns are still actively trying to get Covid-19 testing events in the near future. More news about that will be released as soon as it is available.  Information regarding the vaccination clinics and potential testing dates will continue to be shared through AlertNow (sign up at www.newfairfield.org), Nixle (sign up at www.townofshermanct.org), town Facebook pages (see recent video), The Town Tribune and in the “News” section of the towns’ websites.

In the meantime, Covid-19 infection rates continue to climb in New Fairfield, Sherman and surrounding towns.  “It is important to continue to wear masks, social distance, remain six feet apart and avoid gatherings at this time to help lessen the spread,” said Tim Simpkins, Director of Health for New Fairfield and Sherman.  “The vaccine must be taken in two doses several weeks apart, and it will take a few weeks after the second shot for people to realize the full strength of the vaccination. For the sake of others, and as it is unknown if one can transmit the virus even once vaccinated, it is extremely important that all precautions continue to be adhered to,” he noted.  The Covid-19 vaccines will prevent someone from getting sick with Covid-19 or lessen the severity of symptoms, similar to flu shots. The more people that are vaccinated, the more herd immunity will be established and life can return to normal.  For more information on Covid-19 and the vaccines, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html.

By J. U. Azzi