Beth David, Editor/Publisher
The Acushnet Selectboard and other town officials have sent a letter to Mass. Governor Charlie Baker asking that the state authorize local governments to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
The letter, dated 3/1/21, notes that the town has been testing residents and town employees on a regular basis, so the infrastructure is in place to easily switch from testing to vaccinations.
“It is our strong conviction that community based clinics are a vital, accessible option to vulnerable Phase 2 populations who, due to age, physical and mental health conditions, mobility challenges, or economic barriers, cannot readily book an appointment and travel to a mass vaccine site,” reads the letter. “In addition, we are ready, willing, and able to quickly and efficiently offer vaccines to our Phase 2 essential workers, namely teachers, who are being called upon to take on a larger role in serving the public education needs of students in the next month.”
The letter says that the town believes they are “best suited” to run clinics for essential workers, such as public works and school personnel.
“The infrastructure is already in place from testing our employees on a weekly basis, and our efficiency in high demand processing of tests is tried and true,” reads the letter, and adds that the testing team has tested more than 400 residents within a three-hour time frame “flawlessly.”
“Particularly in light of Commissioner Riley’s recent announcement that the state wishes to see elementary students in school full time by April, empowering local governments to quickly vaccinate school employees at a convenient location and without forcing them to compete with one million other eligible residents on a state website that has struggled to meet demand would be an incredible advantage toward meeting this goal,” reads the letter.
It also specifically notes that the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine that is now available makes the idea of local testing “an even more compelling approach to promote healthy schools and protect essential personnel without interrupting the flow of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to the mass vaccination sites.”
“We respectfully request your advocacy in supporting the vaccination of school personnel through a municipal approach utilizing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, especially since the Commonwealth will receive more than four times the amount required to vaccinate all the teachers in the state,” reads the letter. “We need our teachers to focus on educating and supporting the children in our districts so we can start addressing the substantial social-emotional challenges the pandemic has created for students and their families. The reality is that the health and wellness of our educators and staff is essential in our efforts to bring students back to full in-person learning, and a one-dose vaccine distributed by local municipalities to their staff can accomplish that.
“We implore you to consider local governments as your strongest link in accomplishing this goal of mass vaccination and the reopening of our schools and communities.”
The letter was signed by the Selectboard, Town Administrator, Board of Health, Fire Chief, Superintendent of Schools, Health Agent, School Business Manager, Council on Aging Director, and Emergency Management Director.
It was sent to the governor and copied to Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Sen. Mark Montigny, and Rep. Christopher Hendricks.
Support local journalism, donate to the Neighb News with PayPal.
Click here to download the entire 3/18/21 issue: 03-18-21 CandidatesNight