January 20, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer
While the COVID-19 vaccination is not available to the general public at this time, as more information becomes available it "will be shared with the community," Town Administrator Tom Mayo said during last night's remote selectmen's meeting.
Vaccine distribution continues across Massachusetts as the state works through its three-phase vaccine rollout plan. "We are following the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s Incident Management framework to expand our Vaccine Planning Group and to bring in additional trained staff to plan and coordinate larger-scale vaccine clinics, should we be authorized by the state to move forward," Mayo said.
The Hingham Health Department is one of approximately 115 organizations statewide approved to distribute vaccinations to public safety personnel as part of Phase 1 of the state's COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan.
- "We were pleased to announce last week that 160 responders in the Town of Hingham received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination," Mayo said. On Tuesday and Thursday, Jan. 12 and 14, Hingham paramedics administered the Moderna vaccine to members of the Hingham Police Department, Hingham Fire Department, and regional 911 dispatchers during clinics held at the Hingham Senior Center.
Meanwhile, the Hingham Vaccine Planning Group is applying for state authorization to allow the town to operate a clinical site for additional groups in Phase 1 of the state’s rollout plan. (See chart.)
These include health aides and health care workers providing non-COVID-facing care -- such as dentists, physical, therapists, podiatrists, and other professionals, unless routinely working with COVID-19-positive or suspected-positive patients.
"We're developing a list of residents working in these fields," Executive Health Officer Susan Sarni said.
Selectmen Chair Mary Power expressed appreciation for Sarni and her team "for literally working around the clock, seven days a week, since March. When people are [worried], angry, or confused, you and your department have been as responsive as ever," she said.
Refer to the state's https://www.mass.gov/info-details/when-can-i-get-the-covid-19-vaccine for the most up-to-date vaccine information. This page can be found by visiting mass.gov, clicking on the COVID-19 link, and then clicking "When can I get the vaccine?"
Sarni reported that the Hingham Public Schools have begun pool testing for COVID. The idea behind this type of testing is that a large number of people are tested at one time, providing assessment data within a short timeframe.
The Hingham Health Department continues to urge residents to remain vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 as the community remains at a high risk for the disease, according to Mayo.
According to recent Massachusetts Department of Public Health statistics released last week, Hingham remains in the high-risk "red" zone, with 238 new COVID-19 cases in the community over the past 14 days at that time and a total of 1,133 cases in Hingham since the pandemic began.
"Residents are strongly encouraged to avoid high risk activities, especially indoor social gatherings, and all Massachusetts residents are under orders from the Governor to wear face masks at all times while in public," Mayo said.
Residents are reminded to take the following precautions as outlined by Mayo to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in the community:
* Remember that an infected individual can spread COVID-19 before they have symptoms, which is why social distancing -- maintaining a minimum of six feet from others -- is critical.
Those who must go out are urged to:
* Avoid gathering in groups
* Maintain six feet from people outside your household
* Do not shake hands or hug
* Wash your hands often
"Those who are at a high risk for COVID-19, including those over the age of 65 and with underlying health conditions, are advised to stay home and avoid non-essential tasks and errands," Mayo said.
Residents are reminded to wear a face mask during indoor and outdoor activities at all times. Non-disposable face masks should be washed regularly depending on the amount of use.