Preliminary plans announced for vaccines
By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Westborough will likely move its Annual Town Meeting from March 13 to some time in late spring. A date will be chosen at a future Board of Selectmen’s meeting.
On Jan. 26, selectmen met jointly with the Westborough Board of Health to talk about the best course of action. Town Manager Kristi Williams was instructed to speak to the department heads to see if any warrant articles are so time sensitive that a date change would be detrimental.
Board members agreed they want the largest number of participants possible and at a later date, when the COVID-19 pandemic could be more under control.
Board of Health member Nathan Walsh noted that the number of cases in the state surged after Thanksgiving and Christmas and now appears to be trending downward.
The roll out of vaccinations makes him hopeful that people will feel less at risk once more of the population gets shots.
Board of Health Chair Alan Ehrlich said “later is probably better,” but pointed out that Town Meetings were held “successfully and in a safe way,” last year and questioned whether it could be done again.
Town Moderator John Arnold said three meetings were held and the town has several options as to how it can proceed.
“From a health perspective, vaccinations are (now) not a pipe dream,” Ehrlich said. “They are rolled out and will make a difference. In April, May, (that) will be more noticeable.”
Reaching out to elderly population
Earlier, Fire Chief Patrick Purcell discussed efforts to vaccinate townspeople in various demographics prioritized by the governor.
Healthcare workers and people at long-term facilities were first.
Purcell said Westborough teamed with five communities and held a clinic where 400 first responders were vaccinated in two days. The second shots will be administered on day 28.
The next step, he said, is to give shots to people age 75 and older. This population will be challenging to serve because some have mobility issues and won’t be able to stand in long lines.
Sign-ups are done online, he added, and many in that age group don’t have access to or ability with technology.
It’s anticipated that a clinic will be held at the senior center. Paramedics will try to help people who are house bound or bedridden and can’t stand in line and wait.
He added that he is working with Superintendent Amber Bock to handle vaccinations in the school department. They have a plan to accomplish the shots in one day and then repeat them 28 days later.
Beyond that, Purcell said, the town will follow the governor’s guidelines which may involve using large venues like Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, etc.
“Communication is our challenge,” Purcell said, adding they will use local TV, social media and other means to get the word out.
He urged residents to visit the town website and sign up for Code Red notifications to receive voice, text and other pertinent messages.
Selectman Ian Johnson encouraged people to reach out to neighbors over 75 and help them fill out forms.
“It’s time to look out for each other,” he said.
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