Wilton’s Health Department holds its first vaccine clinic for local educators today, providing the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to Cider Mill School and Miller-Driscoll School employees who are choosing to be vaccinated.

State Department of Public Health officials, as well as Gov. Ned Lamont, have said that municipal vaccine clinics should prioritize teachers and childcare professionals and that any new clinics scheduled by the town should focus on those two groups before other residents. The total number of vaccines received by the town that are not designated for people previously scheduled to receive second doses must be used for teachers who have chose to be vaccinated.

GOOD Morning Wilton has spoken with both First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice and Wilton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith about the effort to vaccinate district employees, but one question still remained:  with limited vaccines sent by the state, not all Wilton Board of Education employees will be able to receive vaccines this week. So, how did the Wilton Health Department decide to vaccinate the teachers at the first two schools?

Some residents and teachers have pointed out that with students changing classes at Middlebrook Middle School and Wilton High School, teachers at those two schools may be exposed to more students than their peers at the two elementary schools. In addition, some people have cited the potential for increased exposure risk of teenagers who may be more likely to not follow restrictions on gathering or other mitigation protocols.

Gov. Lamont has chosen to structure the state’s vaccine plan by age group, citing the simplicity of the method and the logic of vaccinating residents in order of their risk. But Wilton has chosen to implement a school-by-school system rather than vaccinate by age, like the state.

GOOD Morning Wilton posed the question to Vanderslice: What was the rationale behind vaccinating by building and why were Miller Driscoll and Cider Mill chosen first? 

Vanderslice sent us the following answer:

“The decision was made to prioritize teachers. We are systematically vaccinating employees within a building, classroom buildings first, district headquarters last. This approach allows the building employees the relief of knowing their entire cohort has been addressed, rather than wondering and worrying about when the entire cohort will receive their vaccines. It is also helpful in terms of a future outbreak within a building.   

“Based on the number of vaccines available, vaccinating Miller-Driscoll and Cider Mill on Friday, [March 4], allows us to vaccinate 50% of the classroom buildings and maximize usage of the available doses.  

“We will apply the same approach when the State allocates additional vaccines for Wilton.  We are hopeful that will be soon. 

“From the start, the vaccination rollout has been a difficult exercise in patience for everyone.  We are excited about vaccinating two of the four WPS classroom buildings [Friday].”

Interestingly, here’s the current status of COVID-19 cases and people quarantined due to exposure. The largest numbers of quarantined individuals due to exposure are in the elementary schools, presumably due to exposure of an entire classroom cohort to at least one individual.

Wilton is currently still considered a red alert zone, at a two-week average daily new case rate of 30.44 cases per 100,000. The three new cases reported Thursday, March 4 brought Wilton to an all-time total of 975 cases since the start of the pandemic one year ago.