Behind the Scenes

With a shared goal to end the COVID-19 pandemic through the administration of life-saving vaccines, it took a village to plan from scratch and move with Herculean speed to open the vaccination clinic at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex in December.

Since that time, more than 80,000 vaccines have been administered at the Expo.

Below are a series of articles that go behind the scenes to give voice to many who were part of this unprecedented effort joining health care, state government, local businesses and community partners to fight COVID-19. For many it was a life-changing experience and an honor to be part of something much bigger than themselves.

‘Whatever we need to do'

For Lisa LaBerge and Mark Roberts, the long-awaited vaccination milestone meant the countdown to see their grandchildren had begun.

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'The significance of this work is not lost on anyone'

Nicole Courtois brought 20 years of experience to her role as the clinic’s onsite leader. She describes the experience as “hanging onto the wings of a plane as it flies.”

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‘The vaccines are a ray of hope’

Merideth Plumpton, RN, nurse program coordinator for the State of Vermont’s immunization program was the was “go-to” for answers when the team setting up the clinic had questions.

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‘My entire crew takes great pride in our work behind the scenes’

Fran Berard was in charge of making sure the clinic had all the Band-Aids, needs and syringes it needed: “They’re not going to run out of anything on my watch.”

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‘It connected me to the community more than anything else I’ve ever done’

Todd Young and his team from IT built a system from scratch that allowed patients to schedule appointments themselves. And they did it fast.

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'We found a way to live through the chaos'

David Weiss, RN, calls his work vaccinating people at the Champlain Valley Expo “the most incredible thing I’ve ever done.”

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‘No waste. That’s our daily challenge’

For Kevin Smith and others from the pharmacy department who prepared the vaccines for distribution, every day was a well-orchestrated dance between time and temperature.

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‘It is, no question, the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done’

Welcoming Specialist Kelly Sargent has an innate ability to connect with people, like when she saw a 90-year-old woman who needed help. “I thought of my own grandmother,” she says, “and I did what I would have liked someone else to do for her.”

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'The team's commitment has been just amazing'

Howard Schapiro, MD, was presented with the challenge of a lifetime: How to vaccinate tens of thousands of people as quickly as possible.

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