Stamford Advocate

Rolling up sleeves to stop COVID

- By Robert Davey Robert Davey is a journalist who lives in Bridgeport. He can be reached at

I had my first COVID-19 vaccinatio­n March 14 at a Griffin Hospital clinic on Progress Drive in Shelton. My wife, Sharon, who is a registered nurse at Norwalk Hospital and has been treating COVID patients for a year (and who had already had her vaccinatio­ns) made the appointmen­t online for me.

It was a Sunday. We got there early for my 11:50 a.m. time — just before they closed at noon — and I walked into the building, masked of course, and a young man in camouflage fatigues gave me a slip of paper and I lined up for perhaps 10 minutes until I got a seat at the reception/registrati­on desk, where I needed to show my insurance card.

I received the vaccinatio­n from Jill Zabit, APRN, which Google tells me stands for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, meaning a registered nurse with a master’s degree and training in an additional speciality.

Jill was what any person baring their upper arm would want — a model of kind competence. She said she had been there at 6 that morning and would leave at noon.

I asked if she’d had a break.

“I had a 15-minute break for coffee,” she said. “My friend made soda bread, delicious!”

Jill said she works full-time for a pediatric medical practice in Middlebury. She commutes there from her home in Bethlehem.

She said the Griffin clinic was giving Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which were stored in separate rooms, each in its own refrigerat­or.

Usually there are 12 people registerin­g patients and 14 nurses giving vaccines at the clinic, she said. “It’s very, very well-organized, a well-oiled machine.”

Jill said that on Wednesdays she usually travels to a state facility — her “roadshow,” she called it. The most recent Wednesday she had been at Cheshire Correction­al Institutio­n, known as “Big Cheshire,” vaccinatin­g staff and guards — but not inmates, she said.

I got my shot, very high up on my left arm. She gave me a CDC COVID-19 Vaccinatio­n Record Card with my name, birth date and a sticker affixed, “Pfizer, Lot EM9809, Griffin Health.” I thanked her and left.

Last Sunday, April 11, we drove back for my second shot at the Griffin clinic. I noticed that far fewer people were there to get their shots, and I did not need to wait at all before sitting once more at the registrati­on desk. Then I was directed to the nurse who’d administer the shot — Jill Zabit again. Fourteen nurses were on duty there again, she said, so that was a one in 14 chance.

The day before, she had worked for FEMA in New Britain, “in a trailer truck,” she said, with the National Guard helping. About 300 people had shown up for shots, fewer than had been expected, “But there were three clinics in New Britain yesterday,” so they accounted for more people.

I mentioned that at the Griffin clinic they were not so busy as they had been on my first visit. Some were there for first shots, some for second. “More sites are opening,” she said. “I just signed up for May. They think we’ll be doing this through the summer.”

I rolled up my sleeve and she gave me the second jab, which I hardly felt, and I left with a new sticker on my vaccinatio­n card, with another Pfizer lot number.

Adverse reactions are more likely with the second shot, apparently, but beyond a slightly sore arm, I have had no reaction at all in the three days since my second visit to the Griffin clinic.

Going by my experience, nobody has anything to fear from this successful experiment in socialized, single-payer health care.

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