The New England Center for Children is sharing some fantastic news. Yesterday, the Southborough based institute for autism received enough doses of a Covid-19 vaccine for all of its students ages 16 and older and NECC’s direct-care staff.
NECC began administering the vaccine yesterday and is continuing today and tomorrow. The institute shared the news along with some photos.
Below is the press release, followed by more pictures:
THE NEW ENGLAND CENTER FOR CHILDREN COMMENCES COVID-19 VACCINE ADMINISTRATION TO STAFF AND OLDER STUDENTS
The New England Center for Children® (NECC®), a global leader in education and research for children with autism, announced today that they received and have begun administering the COVID-19 vaccine to direct-care staff and residential students over the age of 16.
“NECC special education teachers are on the front-lines caring for children with autism in group homes. Many of these children are over 16 years of age and are themselves at high risk,” said Vincent Strully, NECC Founder and CEO. “The COVID-19 vaccination will lower that risk and the Department of Health and Human Services is to be applauded for their efficiency in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to our most vulnerable populations.”
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in the school’s gym and aquatic center. More than 900 direct-care staff and students over the age of 16 will receive the vaccine over a three-day period. NECC is one of 34 schools operating 42 residential care programs in Massachusetts, which provide 24-hour supervision for special needs children in structured group homes.
“The NECC community, from teachers to students to parents, are delighted and appreciative that the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived at our school,” said Dr. Jessica Sassi, member of the Senior Leadership team at NECC. “This past year has been a challenging time for everyone, and the COVID-19 vaccine is a major step toward a return to normalcy.”
Like many nonprofit special education schools in Massachusetts, NECC has faced great challenges during the pandemic. New protocols, lost revenue, increased expenses, and staffing challenges have all added stress to a complex organization that provides intensive staffing ratios with close personal contact between teacher and students throughout most of the day.
With community support and the most generous, compassionate staff, NECC managed to keep the residential program (16 group homes) operating safely and in-person throughout this health crisis, and reopen the day services program at the first opportunity in early summer. By implementing safety protocols, providing PPE to all staff and students, and through vigilant surveillance and on-site rapid testing, positive cases were quickly isolated. This week’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic will enable NECC to do its part in stopping the spread.