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BRATTLEBORO — Adding a new touch of personality to COVID-19 vaccine clinics locally, organists played to people in pews being observed for adverse reactions after getting their shots.

“It seems like a really nice way to use the space and make the experience more pleasant and interesting,” said Jamie Mohr, executive director of Epsilon Spires.

People listen to organ music being played after receiving a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine shot during a vaccination clinic hosted by Epsilon Spires but administered by Brattleboro Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

A few minutes before the clinic started Wednesday, Breton Abbondanzio said he would be playing “quiet improvisation to flow out of the experiences in the room, things that are settling for people after vaccination.”

Mohr invited Abbondanzio and Alex Meszler to play organ for the clinic. Meszler planned to perform some compositions from his repertoire, which spans the 17th century to last year.

Mandated by his employer to get vaccinated, Matt Shea of Athens worried he could lose his job. He said he looked up available appointments on the state’s website and found the one at Epsilon Spires.

“It was pretty easy to do,” he said, and getting to hear organ music is “not a terrible thing.”

Vaccinated people also came into the sanctuary to listen. Epsilon Spires used to be home to the First Baptist Church.

Mohr was inspired to hold the event after reading about live organ music being performed during vaccinations in the United Kingdom earlier in the pandemic.

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“I think it’s a great idea,” Abbondanzio said. “It makes it a more hospitable place to get vaccinated and it also showcases this instrument.”

Abbondanzio was vaccinated with a second dose in April and waited in a quiet classroom during the observation period. He also read about Yo-Yo Ma giving a surprise performance at the site where the renowned cellist got his second shot.

Meszler, who serves on the Epsilon Spires board, said the local venue was able to host a clinic as vaccines became less difficult to come by. He described wishing he had been vaccinated in a similar environment but glad he already was done with the process.

“COVID really threw a wrench into this place’s plans,” Meszler said, adding that the state shutdown occurred about six months after Epsilon Spires opened. “This is a symbolic way to reopen.”

Mohr said the Vermont Health Department was looking for venues to have clinics and connected her to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

The walk-in clinic was the first one organized by the hospital that did not begin with a line at the door, said Gina Pattison, director of development and marketing at BMH. She did not have a sense of how turnout would be but the hospital brought 75 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires just one shot.

More than 80 percent of eligible Vermonters have been administered at least one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19, triggering the governor to lift remaining restrictions last Monday. State officials are still enthusiastic about the prospect of getting more shots into arms.

“Every shot we administer this week is just as important as the ones we did last week,” Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. “Every vaccination counts and is a step in the right direction.”

BMH is hosting clinics where appointments can be made by registration or walking in on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until July 1. The clinics to get second doses to the patients will be scheduled through July 22 then future vaccination needs will be assessed.

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