Quiet Heroes of New Canaan: Jenn Eielson and Steve Karl 


Jenn Eielson, New Canaan’s health director, paid out-of-pocket for a balloon guy and treats for kids for a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for children 5-and-older, held Nov. 11 at New Canaan High School, officials say.

New Canaan Director of Health Jennifer Eielson.

In all, 927 kids received their first dose during the clinic, Eielson told members of the Health & Human Services Commission during their regular meeting, held Thursday morning via videoconference.

“Steve Karl from Karl Chevrolet caught wind that I paid for the balloon guy and all the treats and everything out of my own pocket, so Steve Karl and Karl Chevrolet graciously are going to be absorbing all of that cost,” Eielson said. “So I thank them greatly for that.”

The comments came during a general update from Eielson. As of the meeting, about 43% of New Canaan kids aged 5 to 11 had received their initial dose of vaccine against the virus. Another 100 first-dose shots were being set aside during a follow-up second-dose clinic for those kids schedule for Thursday night, she said.

Steve Karl of Karl Chevrolet. Credit: Michael Dinan

Commissioner Alicia Meyer thanked Eielson, saying that her own son had been vaccinated at the NCHS clinic and it was “truly amazing.”

“I mean they had a balloon guy, they had toys for the kids, they had candy,” Meyer said. “You could imagine that number of kids getting vaccines and it was pretty calm, and a happy environment and run so smoothly. All the volunteers—it was fantastic. So thank you so much.”

The appointed body’s chair, Dr. Harrison Pierce, said Eielson deserves credit for creating such well-organized clinics. 

Eielson thanked Pierce as well as Human Services Director Bethany Zaro for their expert help in administering doses. 

After Eielson noted that Karl stepped in to cover the cost of the special “extras” at the clinic, Meyer told her, “And thank you, that you were willing to do that, because that really made a huge difference.”

“The kids were so excited,” Meyer said.

Eielson said with a smile that “it was a little self-preservation mode at that point.”

“Because I’m like, ‘What can I do to make 1,000 screaming children not be screaming?’ ” she said.

[Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment of our “Quiet Heroes” series. We’re accepting nominations for it, see guidelines here.]

One thought on “Quiet Heroes of New Canaan: Jenn Eielson and Steve Karl 

  1. Jenn was terrific during the vaccination process, helping me when I was challenged by the online system. Bravo Jenn.

    But I also want to give Shannon Vallerie a shout out. She “held my hand” and had patience during the ensuing period through my booster shot (and my wife). I pestered her everyday about the approval and availability of the booster. My heartfelt appreciation goes out to

    Lastly the many folks who managed the process at Lapham and Irwin were fantastic ….efficient and quite entertaining. I look forward to my next booster. Another booster?…..unfortunately, very likely.

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