By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer
REGION – Northborough, Southborough and Westborough are exceeding the state average for COVID-19 vaccinations by wide margins, data shows.
That is just as neighboring communities sit still keeping pace with the rest of the state but with substantially fewer vaccinations relative to their populations.
Northborough, Southborough and Westborough boasted 87 percent, 84 percent and 87 percent vaccination rates, respectively, according to a July 1 update from the state Department of Public Health.
Those numbers surpassed the share of vaccinated individuals elsewhere in the immediate area as Hudson, Marlborough, Grafton and Shrewsbury all had similar rates, with 69 percent, 67 percent, 66 percent and 71 percent of residents, respectively, being fully vaccinated.
The trend persisted in data tracking residents with at least one dose.
Health Agent touts volunteer response, regional clinic
Speaking shortly before this latest data release, Northborough Health Agent Kristin Black noted that Northborough, Southborough and Westborough had some of the best vaccination rates in the whole state. She said this has been helped by volunteers at local vaccination clinics.
“We have had an incredible volunteer response from the medical community and the local medical corps,” Black said. “It was no small feat to get to these vaccination numbers.”
Black said that volunteers and paid public health staff worked hard in Northborough with neighboring communities to run the regional vaccination site that operated out of the DoubleTree Hotel in Westborough for three months this spring.
That effort, indeed, pulled together work and resources from Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Ashland, Boylston, Holliston and Hopkinton to provide vaccines to area residents.
Northborough closes vaccination clinic due to decreased demand
Black said that she thinks there was a difference in outreach, availability and convenience between different municipalities with regards to vaccinations. She noted that different municipalities were not part of regional collaborations like the one Northborough helped lead. Others did not have as immediate access to regional vaccination sites as Northborough and some of its neighbors did.
Earlier in the national vaccine rollout, the Health Department focused on outreach to seniors in Northborough, doing robocalls to teach people about vaccinations.
As the DoubleTree clinic opened, she said that administrative staff helped to register people every day, booking them at the DoubleTree or at local pharmacies based on patient convenience.
Black said that the team has now seen demand for vaccines decrease, as the Westborough site went from fully booking all 300 appointments in an afternoon to only having roughly 30 percent of appointments booked in the course of a week.
“Demand just absolutely plummeted,” Black said. “We’ve hit our target for sure for herd immunity in our community.”
Black said that, at this point, the Northborough Health Department is trying to get to hard-to-reach people who are still on the fence about the vaccine.
“The vaccine decisions have become so social, but at the end of the day, the choice of whether or not to vaccinate is really a medical decision,” Black said. “We just want to remind people, that like with all medical decisions, you really should refer to your health care provider who has always been your trusted source of medical information.”