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Surprise Squad gives back to vaccine clinic workers

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    HARTFORD, Connecticut (WFSB) — More than 2.2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far in Connecticut, as the state remains a leader in the nation in terms of vaccination rates.

This would not be possible without the healthcare heroes working around the clock to administer those shots.

As a way to say thank you, Channel 3’s Ayah Galal took the Liberty Bank Surprise Squad to one mass vaccination site.

Alex Yeakel is an emergency department nurse at Hartford Hospital.

He’s been on the frontlines since the start of the pandemic.

“In the beginning it was very tough. Very tough. Patients coming in, intubating patients left and right,” Yeakel said.

He has witnessed firsthand how devastating and grueling the last year has been.

But now, he’s helping administer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Xfinity Theatre mass vaccination site in Hartford.

Each shot is a symbol of hope.

“Patients come here, you know, I’ve had a couple people cry and I thought I hurt them after giving a vaccination but they’re saying it’s tears of joy. And that feeling is overwhelming almost to me to be a part of that. It’s such a joy,” Yeakel said.

It’s a team effort running operations smoothly at this Hartford HealthCare clinic.

“The team is very close and close-knit. Everybody works well together from registration to the vaccinators and nurses and observers,” said Scott Applebaum, certified athletic trainer for Hartford HealthCare.

As long lines form outside the clinic, each day starts with a team huddle.

Nurse Deborah Russo helps run the site.

“I think it’s amazing for patients to have come here before, for like a concert or things like that, a happy time, and now they’re coming here to get their vaccines so it kind of eases their stress or anxiety,” Russo said.

This week, the crew at the Xfinity Theatre vaccine clinic hit a new milestone, administering more than 1,500 shots in one day.

So Channel 3 and the Liberty Bank Surprise Squad dropped off some food, gift cards, and coffee to say thank you to those administering the shots.

The Xfinity Theatre green room is typically where musicians hang out before and after concerts.

But, the Liberty Bank Surprise Squad filled the room with food and goodies for the clinicians working the vaccine site, because they are the stars of the show, helping us get through this pandemic.

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