By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
NORTHBOROUGH – Northborough Health Agent Kristin Black announced the long-awaited opening of a regional COVID-19 vaccination site during a Board of Selectmen meeting April 12.
The site then opened its doors on April 14 at the DoubleTree Hotel at 5400 Computer Dr. in Westborough.
Seven towns work together to open clinic
This site is a collaborative effort between Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Ashland, Boylston, Holliston and Hopkinton.
It regularly bustles with firefighters, health department workers, volunteers and part-time hires from all those communities.
“It’s been a really rewarding team environment and a great way to work with our neighbors and colleagues to pull this all together,” said Black.
The state allocated 1,500 Moderna vaccines to the new site for its first week of operation.
Black stressed that for now, only people receiving their first dose at this location will be able to register. They will be able to schedule their second dose at their first appointment.
Twenty-five percent of the available doses will specifically be for residents of the collaborating towns, leaving 75 percent of doses automatically for state residents who are in the pre-registration system.
Each town, including Northborough, will have a private registration link for residents. Allotted appointments will be updated consistently.
Northborough spearheads regional effort
After addressing selectmen, Black further discussed the new vaccine site during an April 13 Board of Health meeting.
Black has helped lead this task and effort. But she also credits all others involved in having it come together successfully.
Costs associated with staff, supplies and site rental fees are 100 percent reimbursable through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Clerical staff have also been hired to support the operation on site.
It is anticipated that about 33 people will continue to work the site during each shift. They staff registration and vaccination stations while helping with observation of patients after they receive their doses. Staff are also helping schedule second doses.
Black said the site is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the capability of administering roughly 120 doses per hour, according to Black.
“We want to make sure it is efficient, people are not waiting, and they can socially distance,” Black said. “We will be making adjustments as needed.”
Anticipating cancellations and no-shows, Black said she will maintain a call list of residents.
In the meantime, she also cautioned residents April 12 not to cancel an existing appointment at a different location that might be further away.
“We just don’t have much supply right now,” said Black. “If you have an appointment [elsewhere], please keep it. We are looking to serve new people who have not had the luxury of being able to secure an appointment yet.”
If rescheduling is needed, Black directed people to use the 211 state call center. For difficult situations, residents can contact the Health Department at 508-393-5009.
Speaking during a tour of the vaccine clinic April 16 Black indicated that this site’s long term future remains uncertain.
The health departments are leasing space from the DoubleTree through the end of July. Under FEMA guidelines, they have the right to cancel their contract for a full reimbursement before that, if need be. Conversely, Black said the site could also remain open well into the summer, especially if vaccine guidelines change to allow children to receive doses.
Anyone who lives or works in Massachusetts can book an appointment at the “MetroWest-Westborough” vaccine location at the DoubleTree hotel via a state link at: https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/locations/northborough-doubletree-hotel/.