By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer
WESTBOROUGH – Fire Department Captain Brian Roberts was named Westborough’s vaccine clinic coordinator for six months, April 2.
The Board of Selectmen voted to update its personnel policies and approve the job description, which comes with no benefits. The job is temporary and has varying hours depending on how many vaccine clinics are held in a given timeframe.
The position does not cost the town any money. Rather, the services are reimbursed through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds.
On April 2, Town Manager Kristi Williams said that a clerical position associated with the clinics was also being advertised. As of April 16, Northborough Health Agent Kristin Black confirmed that towns participating in a regional collaborative clinic at Westborough’s DoubleTree Hotel had hired and onboarded clerical staff. FEMA is also funding those positions.
Vaccine clinics are in progress at the DoubleTree. Staffed by volunteers and paid personnel from participating communities, the operation sees two check-in areas set up in a main hallway/lobby. Vaccines take place in a second room normally reserved for hotel breakfast operations. And a 1,000-person occupancy ballroom is being used as a staging area for people waiting under observation for a required 15 minutes after receiving their dose.
Fire Chief Patrick Purcell said April 2 that Westborough was expecting to have up to 11 vaccinators give shots to 120 people per hour with a goal of delivering between 975 and 1,000 vaccinations per day.
While the clinic is now administering doses at that target rate, the state only allocated it 1,500 doses for its first week of operation.
Specifically discussing the appointment of Roberts, Selectman Patrick Welch questioned whether six months would be a sufficient duration for the position. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and cited recent news that patients receiving Pfizer vaccines may need a third booster shot between six to twelve months after their second dose.
Purcell responded that the town has no long-term plan yet but said that he assumes vaccinations may eventually be administered in primary care doctors’ offices like flu and other shots.