School opens vaccination clinic

Jack Suter ’23 receiving his COVID vaccine – Jeffrey Yang ’22

Walking into the wrestling room on April 19, a visitor would have seen tables, distanced chairs to the side, and a line of boys eagerly waiting to receive their first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. For a quick one-day event, the planning behind the scenes was a prolonged effort led by Head of School Dr. John Nagl.

     Ever since the beginning of vaccine distribution, Dr. Nagl was eager to hold a clinic on campus to make it easily accessible for students and their parents. So, when everyone over the age of sixteen was qualified to receive the vaccine, Dr. Nagl sprung into action, contacting Springfield Pharmacy.

     “I told the board that once the shots [the vaccines were] available, I wanted to do it [hold a clinic]. Then, I called the people at Springfield Pharmacy, and we set up a time to hold the clinic,” Dr. Nagl said.

     From there, the rest of the process was quite smooth. In whole, fifty-six qualifying upper school students, including a small group of their parents, received their first shots in the first clinic held in April. Though this number may not seem large, Dr. Nagl is still pleased with the outcome.

      “When I did a general survey to roughly see how many students who qualified for the vaccine [as of April] were already vaccinated, I found that much more than a majority of them were,” Dr. Nagl said. “This number reflects the rather small number of qualified students who were not yet vaccinated.”

     Due to the number of appointments, only the owner and the pharmacist at Springfield Pharmacy were required to vaccinate everyone there. Aside from a delay due to traffic, the vaccines were injected at a fast pace and without complications. 

      “Once they [the vaccine administrators] arrived, everyone was in and out quickly,” Dr. Nagl said. 

      The success of the first clinic, combined with the timing of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) approval of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered for children twelve to fifteen years old, has led into a much larger second clinic, which is scheduled for May 20.  

     “For this next one, we have more than 200 boys signed up: this includes the older guys getting their second shot, but also many middle school guys and upper school underclassmen,” Dr. Nagl said.

     The clinic is set to run in the same fashion as the previous one; however, due to the increased number of appointments, more vaccine administrators will help the process be just as efficient as the first clinic. To ensure that minimal delays occur, Dr. Nagl advises parents to not arrive too early or too late.

     “Come fifteen minutes early. No earlier, no later, because we can’t just have people showing up one hour early [from their scheduled appointment time], expecting to get the shot out of line,” Dr. Nagl said.

     Looking into the future, these vaccination efforts are certainly a step toward looser COVID restrictions next year. For one, the mask policy may be revised.

     “We cannot confirm anything yet, but, with the recent CDC guidelines on masks, it may be that if you are fully vaccinated, a mask will be optional.” Dr. Nagl continued, “But, for our lower school students, masks will likely still be required—the same would go for lower school faculty in that case.” 

     Depending on when vaccines are tested and approved for children eleven years old and younger, another vaccination clinic may be held before school starts for the 2021-2022 school year. 

     Dr. Nagl said, “If we can get them into the younger guys, I would definitely look into holding another clinic. But that all is based on when the shot is approved for those guys.”

     For those in the community who are still hesitant to receive the COVID vaccine, Dr. Nagl had the following message.

     “I urge you to get the vaccine, to take your children to get the vaccine. We’ve made it easy for you to do so,” Dr. Nagl said. “Please do it for yourself, your family, community, the school, the country, and the world.”

Author: Jeffrey Yang '22

Managing editor Jeffrey Yang has written for The Index since 2018. He previously served as news editor. His feature "Fords immigrants under the spotlight: Mr. Kan's citizenship odyssey" earned a Gold Key from the 2020 Philadelphia-area Scholastic Writing Awards.