Marlborough receives vaccine doses for homebound residents

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File photo by/Ed Kavorski Jr.
The Marlborough Senior Center stands near Downtown Marlborough. Senior Center staff will soon help local health officials coordinate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for homebound city residents.

By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

Marlborough — Fresh out of a meeting with the state’s Department of Public Health and the City’s Board of Health Director, Mayor Arthur Vigeant announced Marlborough would receive 160 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for homebound residents.

Vigeant, still frustrated over the allocation of doses from the state, told the City Council April 5 that Health Director John Garside is working with the Senior Center and other community organizations to help identify those homebound residents who want the vaccine.

Regional site at Marriott remains in limbo

As these doses arrive, efforts to set up a regional vaccination site at the Courtyard Marriott on Felton Street remain stalled.

Vigeant told the City Council that UMass Memorial-Marlborough Hospital has received 800 doses to be distributed as second doses only out of the Marriott facility. Hospital staff is booking appointments, as they’ve moved part of their operation there.

But the site is not open to those not receiving immunizations through UMass Memorial.

City officials submitted a plan Feb. 22 for this regional vaccination site. That plan would have guaranteed 750 doses per day. But it has not received approval due to a lack of vaccines.

“We’ve got Big Brother in Washington telling Big Brother at the state what to do, and we’re waiting,” Vigeant said of the process.

Vigeant feels strongly that Marlborough should be getting more doses, in part because the Brazilian community, which is seen as an underserved population in the state, makes up 15 percent of the city’s total population.

“As far as I’m concerned, we should have a regional site up on [French] Hill,” he said.

The Board of Health currently employs three bilingual ambassadors who the city says are hard at work ensuring ethnic populations are aware of vaccine protocols and CDC guidelines, including mask-wearing and social distancing.

Concern over potential impact of school vacation

Outside of the vaccine effort, April public school vacation begins in two weeks. That, combined with the recent Easter holiday, has Vigeant concerned. He said April 5 that he expects a spike in COVID-19 cases after school vacation.

Testing site remains in operation

Potentially weathering that surge, Marlborough Hospital is continuing to help staff a coronavirus testing site at the New England Sports Center (NESC). That operation will remain open through the end of June.

As of April 5, Vigeant told the Council, the NESC site is conducting approximately 1800 tests per week.

The number of active cases “has remained constant” over the past 14 days.