Giant Steps School vaccination: HHMP run 2 clinics to vaccinate youth with autism and their teachers
HHMP runs 2 on sites vaccine clinics
Hunters Hill Medical Practice has a long history of caring for students and staff from the Giant Steps School for children and young adults with Autism at Gladesville. As such we were devastated to hear about the August 2021 COVID-19 outbreak in this vulnerable population and the difficulties that had been faced with having the students and the staff appropriately vaccinated.
Patients with autism are high risk
Children and adults with autism are a high risk population who require close contact with those who care for them and can thus spread the virus amongst each other. Further, this group may not be able to express their symptoms to those around making recognition of illness harder. Thus they may end up with delayed presentation to hospital and more severe illness. Not to mention, that the average hospital environment with the myriad of lights, buzzers and noises would further distress a sick patient with autism. Prevention with vaccination was definitely the way to go.
HHMP runs 2 clinics at Giant Steps School
HHMP Medical Director Dr Charbel Badr reached out to the acting principal at Giant Steps School, Andrew Frakes to see how HHMP can help. Vaccination of staff and students over the age of 12 was identified as a priority and HHMP made arrangements with the school to conduct 2 onsite clinics to vaccinate all those who needed it.
The need to have the clinics on site was to make them as accessible as possible for those needing vaccination and also in recognition of the needs of the students. Patients with autism prefer routine, places they are used to and people who they have got to know and trust. They may not be able to handle the overstimulation from a busy vaccine clinic waiting room with multiple other people around. Thus bringing the vaccines to them, in their school and sometimes even in their classes was definitely the way to go!
Dr Charbel Badr and HHMP head nurse Gabby ran both clinics at the Giant Steps school with 1st doses on Wednesday the 25th of August and 2nd doses on Wednesday the 15th of September. Both clinics were very well organised by the school and very well attended by the patients. HHMP would like to thank Andrew Frakes from Giant Steps for all the effort he put into organising the clinic and supporting us on the day.
The response from the Giant Steps School community has been overwhelming and truly humbling for the HHMP staff. The experience has provided our staff with further motivation to try and seek out and help those most vulnerable. As a result we ran a smaller session at the HHMP vaccine clinic for staff and students from St Lucy’s School for children with disabilities.
Below is an email sent to HHMP following administration of the first doses by a parent from the Giant Steps School. The child’s and parent’s names have been withheld to protect their privacy.
My child is a student at Giant Steps at Gladesville and today has received the first COVID vaccination courtesy of your medical practice and Dr Badr.
I have had many sleepless nights recently worrying about how we would be able to achieve having my child vaccinated – it would have been an enormously difficult task for us to manage without a lot of support and I was at a loss to find an appropriate solution. When the school advised us that your practice had offered to vaccinate students, we jumped at the chance. My child had the first shot this morning and it went more smoothly than anyone could imagine and I just wanted to send you a very heartfelt thank you. We greatly appreciate the thoughtfulness and consideration extended to the school and its students, not to mention the organisation required to make it happen.
COVID has made life very challenging and uncertain but it also highlights just how many wonderful and generous people there are in our community. Thank you for being those people.
Parent name withheld for privacy reasons