Hudson plans COVID-19 vaccine booster clinic

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Health care workers prepare vaccine syringes at a clinic in Westborough last year. Hudson officials are now planning a vaccine clinic to take place later this month. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON – The Hudson Health Department will help provide COVID-19 booster shots at a clinic at the Hudson Portuguese Club on Jan. 20.

The clinic, which is only open to Hudson residents, comes as coronavirus cases rates remain high in town.

“We have the tools to fight COVID-19, and more specifically, Omicron,” the Health Department wrote in a pandemic data update on Monday, referencing the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Hudson previously noted major case surge

Though recent data has shown the Omicron surge may finally be on the decline, Hudson confirmed its highest one-week case counts to date in the pandemic in that Monday update, noting 633 new cases since Dec. 31.

Hudson previously reported 559 cases in the entire month of December. Before that, it saw 156 cases in November.

The Hudson Public Schools have reported infection data as well, with school officials informing parents of 33 new cases between Jan. 3 and Jan. 6.

State data, meanwhile, showed a 17.03 percent test positivity rate in Hudson between Dec. 19 and Jan. 1. That surpassed the state average of 15.03 percent.

As these case rates have surged, local officials continue to recommend that residents get vaccinated and boosted.

“Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging,” the Health Department wrote on Monday.

Health Department plans booster clinic

The Health Department has operated a number of other vaccine clinics throughout the pandemic.

It’s upcoming event will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., providing both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses at the Portuguese Club at 13 Port Street in town.

Individuals older than 12 are eligible so long as they’ve gone six months since a Moderna shot, five months since a Pfizer shot or two months since a Johnson & Johnson shot.

Residents can get either a Pfizer or Moderna booster regardless of the brand of vaccine that they previously received.

Registration is required.

Those getting vaccinated further must bring a printed and completed consent form, their CDC vaccination form and their insurance card, if applicable.

The Health Department has noted in its announcement of this event that individuals will not be denied a vaccine if they do not have health insurance.

See a complete list of requirements and get registration info online.

Neighboring communities note concerns about data 

Hudson last publicized local vaccination rates on Dec. 31.

At that point, 74% of eligible residents had been fully vaccinated. Eighty four percent had received at least one dose, while 29% had their booster shot.

As local and regional public health experts continue to discuss that and other data, though, some have shared concerns about reliability.

In Westborough, Board of Health member Alan Ehrlich noted in a recent meeting that the frequently used Massachusetts Virtual Epidemiologic Network (MAVEN) database showed him as being unvaccinated.

While the town had accurate information through the separate MIIS database, the process of searching that set was much more laborious and therefore was not feasible given the volume of cases coming in, Ehrlich said.

“We need to understand that there are now flaws in the data that we didn’t previously — or at least I wasn’t as aware of — and that may have some impact in what we report in the future,” Ehrlich continued.

Marcia Blakey, who serves as the administrative assistant to the Hudson Board of Health responded to a question about the reliability of MAVEN in an email to the Community Advocate on Thursday.

“MAVEN has been unreliable,” she said. “But that is how we get notified of positive cases from the state.”

Back in Westborough, Ehrlich also noted overall case rate data, which has been called into question of late with the proliferation of at-home tests.

Public health officials throughout the region have voiced concerns about individuals who test positive not reporting their cases. That could lead to deflated overall case counts.

“Unless someone does notify us, we don’t know that they’re positive and therefore our case counts are on the low side,” Ehrlich said. “We don’t know by how much, but we know that there are definitely more people infected than what we’re reporting.”

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