Circleville Middle School eighth-grade student Allen Faust was pretty excited when he heard the FDA announced that children ages 12 to 16 were now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. To him, and many others, it was hopefully the beginning of a more normal life again.
As luck would have it, Pine Bush Central School District announced on May 12 that it was partnering with Garnet Health to provide a vaccination clinic with the Pfizer vaccine a week later on May 20. Just one day after the announcement, the district received 100 registrations. Allen’s was one of the first. With good reason.
When he was a kindergarten student at Circleville Elementary School, Allen was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, according to his dad, Allen. “He would say his heart hurt when he ran,” said his dad. He went to the cardiac unit at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx and then spent 21 days at Columbia to get the pressure down. He left with a central intravenous line direct to his heart, which would stay in place 24 hours a day.
When he returned to school, he had a nurse with him throughout the day. Eventually, his central line was replaced with a line in his arm. As of last July, he is on oral medication for his condition. But Allen has been a remote student since March 2020. Medically, he cannot be around people in a pandemic. Even at home, his parents have had to take extra precautions. His mom, Colleen Faust, is a nurse. His dad is a police officer. Both come in contact with many people during their work day and both were vaccinated early this year.
“I was elated when the district announced this clinic,” Colleen said. “I responded immediately to Mr. Mains’ message. When the Pfizer vaccine was approved for kids, I called his cardiologist and they said get him first on line! That was all I needed.”
Like many kids, Allen wants to see his friends. And that is a main reason why he was one of the first on line at the vaccination clinic this Thursday morning, complete with his NY Giants mask.
“I’m excited to see my friends again and do the things I used to do, like go to the movies, the mall, a water park,” Allen said.
“This guy has been in lockdown almost a year and a half,” said Colleen. “This virus has no mercy and he is compromised. We’re hoping for normality.”
And that includes a return to school for Allen in the fall as he will enter Pine Bush High School.
His dad said he is grateful to the district for hosting this clinic, but he’s not surprised they would.
“Every teacher, principal, staff member has been so great with Allen throughout this,” said his dad. “The kids have taken him under their wing. Even when he was small, they would help him put his chair up on the desk at the end of the day. Everyone has been so supportive. This school district has done a lot for Allen. And he wants to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”
“I’ve always been impressed with Pine Bush with the support they’ve given us,” said Colleen.
Allen was one of 259 students, parents and staff – although it was predominately students – to participate in the vaccination clinic held at PBHS on May 20. They will return for their second dose on June 10.
How did Allen fare with his first dose? Four days after the clinic, his mom reports that he came through with flying colors. “He didn’t even have site pain.”
Anyone wishing to receive the vaccine, which is free of charge, may check the following links for available appointments: