Northampton photographer Paul Shoul creates ‘Getting Vaccinated’ photo project to inspire others to get a COVID vaccine

When Northampton photographer Paul Shoul got his COVID-19 vaccine at the Big Y in Greenfield in March, he asked the nurse if he could take a photo of her.

“I looked around and this was the happiest group I had seen during the pandemic,” Shoul told MassLive. The nurse was happy to have him document this “historical moment.”This experience sparked an idea: take photos of people getting vaccinated to encourage others to go out and get their dose. The project is named “Getting Vaccinated: Portraits from the Northampton Clinic” and consists of 102 photos of people after getting their shot at the Senior Center in Northampton.But to make this happen, Shoul said he had to jump through hoops. He first contacted Mayor David Narkewicz and was put in touch with the Northampton Health Department.

Soon, he met with a nurse for the Northampton health department and devised a plan. Shoul wanted to be sure he didn’t interfere with the vaccination process and ensure safety.
Thanks to the help of Kate Kelly, who was in charge of the clinic, Shoul was provided with a room to photograph newly vaccinated patients on May 1 and May 15. He timed them so he could get a diverse variety of ages, seeing vaccine rollout was spaced out by age.
As the idea grew, Shoul also partnered with Historic Northampton, the city’s museum and education center with which he had a long relationship.
Together, they made a flier explaining the project and release form to be handed out to patients at the clinic along with the other paperwork they received.
Northampton Photographer

Shoul’s passion for the project was based on a mission to “show a group of inspired people and inspire the vaccine-hesitant to go out and get a shot” and he said the response has been fantastic.The photos are now being displayed online and at Greenfield Savings Bank, where a television shows photos out the window 24/7. Many of the people photographed gave quotes to Shoul which he used to caption their pictures.

For example, Asheesh Siddiqud said, “It reflects an immense accomplishment that government has been able to produce and distribute the vaccine as quickly as it had. This is truly unprecedented.”
While Joy and Giselle O said, “This year has been very crazy and there have been so many low points, so I’m glad the vaccines are available and our lives will slowly go back to a more ‘normal’ state.”
Shoul also photographed a lot of people who worked at the Senior Center. Kelly, the nurse in charge of the clinic said, “Being part of the vaccine effort & response to the pandemic is the most important work I’ve ever been a part of.”
Kelly’s son also spent time there, playing his cello to share his music, though he is too young to get the vaccine himself. “I wish kids could get the vaccine,” he said.
All of the photos and captions are displayed on the Historic Northampton website
One of Shoul’s biggest takeaways from the project was how great the staff at the Senior Center was.
“I was just amazed by how organized they were,” Shoul said. He added that many of the volunteers put in a lot of time and effort to make the clinic successful and told him they had a very positive experience working there.
The Hampshire County Regional Vaccine Clinic located at the Northampton Senior Center was a collaboration between the Northampton Health Department, the Northampton Fire Rescue Department, the Hampshire Public Health Preparedness Coalition and the Hampshire County Medical Reserve Corps, according to the website.

Shoul said Emma Winter Zeig, who constructed the gallery at Historic Northampton, and Elizabeth Sharpe whom he worked with extensively to put this together deserve credit as well.

“I got skills and this was my way of doing my part and that personally felt really good,” Shoul said. “I was just honestly honored to meet all of the people that were working there.”
Vaccines are no longer being administered at the Northampton Senior Center.

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