The city of Gloucester is going week by week with its vaccine clinic.
"We just need to get this down and have a safe, efficient clinic," Public Health Director Karin Carroll said Tuesday night.
Carroll explained at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting that she is just focused on how to effectively administer vaccines this week as the state allows each municipality to order more vaccines week-by-week.
And so far, at the end of the first day of the clinic, Carroll defines the operation as "successful."
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the city administered the Moderna vaccine to 100 first responders at the Rose Baker Senior Center vaccine clinic.
"It went without a glitch," Carroll said. "Every single dose was used and no dose was wasted or spilled."
The vaccine clinic at the Rose Baker Senior Center is only servicing select regional first responders from Essex, Gloucester, Ipswich, Manchester and Rockport as of Tuesday, Jan. 12. According to a statement prepared by the city, the clinic is only permitted by the state's Department of Public Health to vaccinate certain first responders, COVID-19 vaccinators and support staff for the vaccination clinic.
Carroll noted that 98 patients are signed up for Wednesday, Jan. 13.
When asked what happens to the leftover vaccines, Carroll explained that there is a system in place to make sure that no vaccine goes unused.
If the clinic receives any cancellations, those spots are filled with first responders that were booked for later in the week. Once every first responder from the region who wants a vaccine has received it, Carroll said, the city will go back to the priority list to see if people were added to the first group.
The vaccine clinic is a step in the process of eradicating the COVID-19 virus as the number of cases continue to rise.
As of Sunday, Jan. 10, the status of COVID-19 cases in Gloucester include 1,208 overall cases (1,140 confirmed and 68 probable); 1,009 recovered; 33 COVID-19 related deaths; and 166 active cases.
In an update to the city's government website, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken noted that the number of COVID-19 related deaths has increased from 31 to 33 since the city's last update.
"The cases were recovered for us, but death certificates classified them as COVID-19 related deaths," Romeo Theken wrote. "Our thoughts are with all the families who have been affected by this awful virus."
Navigating muddy waters
On Dec. 30, a collection of wastewater samples from the city's sewage through Biobot testing showed a very high level of the virus.
"The spike in virus concentration means there is significantly more virus in the community now than at any other point since we began testing wastewater as a surveillance tool," a prepared statement by the city read.
Finding the clusters
Carroll explained that since the holiday, schools and many businesses have been able to operate safely with very little transmission.
“We are very happy about that,” she said.
The clusters of COVID-19 cases, she noted, mainly stem from private clubs, gatherings, and households.
As the city and health professionals watch the number of cases,local hospitals are not at capacity.
“We speak with the hospitals daily,” Carroll said. “At this point, they continue to be doing well and are sitting at 80% to 90% occupancy for their hospitals.”
For a couple of weeks, however, their ICU beds felt the pressure of an increased number of hospitalizations due to the virus.
"That is something that is very concerning and we watch that very closely," Carroll said.
Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOOKING TO VOLUNTEER?
The city of Gloucester is collaborating with the Medical Reserve if a need for volunteers arises in the future to support additional vaccine clinics.
Volunteers with and without medical experience are welcome.
Those interested in volunteering can sign up online at www.maresponds.org