WILMINGTON, MA — At this week’s Board of Selectmen Meeting, town officials slammed Governor Baker’s recent decision to stop supplying municipal health departments with COVID-19 vaccine.
“The big news is the Governor has said that, effective March 1, the state will no longer supply first dose vaccinations for local boards of health,” Wilmington Health Director Shelly Newhouse told Selectmen in her bi-monthly update. “That’s very frustrating for me and my staff as well as our residents. We were really ready to go.”
Newhouse did stress that anyone who has received their first vaccination from her department will receive their second dose. Her department is planning a clinic for those residents on March 4, 2021 at the Shriners.
Newhouse also noted that State Rep. Dave Robertson and other “higher ups” are examining the possibility to setting up a regional vaccination clinic in or around Wilmington.
“We were ready for this,” echoed Wilmington Fire Chief Bill Cavanaugh. “It’s extremely demoralizing that our state leaders basically have no confidence in us to handle these situations.”
Selectmen also expressed their frustrations.
“It’s an absolute embarrassment,” said Selectman Gary DePalma. “I believe Massachusetts is at or near the bottom of the list for putting out shots. This state should be ashamed of itself. To take this away from the local health departments is absolutely absurd.”
“I can’t imagine rolling out the vaccine and then having the rug pulled out from under you,” echoed Selectman Kevin Caira. “It makes more sense to have our local board of health administer the vaccine than going to [mass vaccination sites].”
“I share my frustration over the decision,” added Selectman Greg Bendel. “You and your staff were fully prepared and would have done a fantastic job.”
“You have been the face of this,” Selectmen Chair Jonathan Eaton told Newhouse. “You are the person that residents have trusted with this. I think the best way to effectively administer the vaccine would have been through you and your staff… As a community, we are very, very fortunate to have your leadership and your consistency. You deserved the opportunity to drag us across the finish line for this.”
In some good news, Newhouse reported that Wilmington — as of Monday night — was down to 61 active positive COVID-19 cases, with more than 200 additional residents in quarantine. Newhouse did caution, however, she is concerned the town may see a slight uptick in cases due to school vacation week.
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