A tiger-striped “Welcome Back Newton North!” sign welcomed visitors back to Newton North High School on Sept. 11 for a vaccine clinic. Just an 11-minute drive away, Newton South High School held a second vaccine clinic.
The Newton North cafeteria and Newton South gymnasium were transformed into vaccination clinics, offering vaccines for people ages 12 and up from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m.
“Our goal is for our entire community to work together to stop the spread to youngsters who are not eligible to receive a vaccine and others who are immunocompromised or face health challenges,” Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in a community update on Sept. 2.
The City of Newton will host two more vaccine clinics at the high schools on Oct. 2. Both clinics will again be open from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. Patients can register in advance, choose a school location, and schedule a time slot for their vaccine online. Walk-in appointments are also accepted, according to Fuller’s statement.
While pharmacies including Keyes Drug in Auburndale, Union Pharmacy in Newton Centre, CVS, and Walgreens have vaccines available to the public, Newton resident Praju Vikas Anekal chose to get his daughter vaccinated at the Newton North clinic instead.
“I have no reason not to go to a pharmacy, but given a choice between the two, the schools are probably a bit more comforting and more open environments,” Anekal said.
Anekal and his daughter, Arianna Anekal, recently moved from New Zealand and have been living in Newton for about two weeks. At the time they left New Zealand, Anekal said those under 16 were not yet eligible for the vaccine. Arianna got her first dose in New York when they first moved to the United States. Shortly after moving to Newton, it was time for her second dose.
“We knew that the US had it approved for 12-year-olds, so one of the first things we did when we got there was to get that first dose,” Anekal said.
Anekal was one of the few people who showed up at Newton North to receive a vaccine. The number of residents who went to Newton South for vaccines was also lower than expected, nurses at the clinic said.
“I was honestly expecting more people,” Anekal said. “I think we came in a bit early, and it was seamless.”
In addition to making vaccines easily available to combat the virus, Fuller’s mask mandate for all indoor public places in Newton went into effect on Sept. 2. The Newton School Committee also passed a vaccine mandate for all school staff on Sept. 1, and Newton Public Schools is requiring students, staff, and visitors to wear a mask while indoors or on school buses.
“Masking helps stop the spread so that we can continue to frequent the businesses we love, our kids can be in school in-person, our vulnerable residents can avoid a breakthrough case, and we can all live our lives,” Fuller wrote in a community update. “[Students] are heading back to school in-doors. … Wearing masks when we’re indoors in public places helps protect them.”
Parents, such as Jay Baksha, are hoping to protect their children with the vaccine as schools open up this fall. His daughter, Riddhe Baksha, is a middle school student who just turned 12 in August. She received her first vaccination at the Newton North clinic on Sept. 9.
When searching for a place to get Riddhe’s first dose of the vaccine, Baksha emphasized the comfort he felt within the school’s environment.
“We were thinking about going to a clinic, but we happened to see that they had shots here,” Baksha said of the school’s clinic. “Students just want to be back in person.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons