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First responders to get vaccinated at county sites

  • Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. AP FILE PHOTO/PAUL SANCYA



Staff Writer
Monday, January 11, 2021

Three sites in Hampshire County will begin administering COVID-19 vaccine doses to police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and other first responders through scheduled appointments on Jan. 11.

An online reservation system will be set up this week for the vaccinations at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz St.; the Bangs Community Center in Amherst, 30 Boltwood Walk; and the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts, 1 Campus Center Way, according to state officials. Similar sites are being set up around the state.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday announced the next phase of vaccine distribution. Hospitals are also helping set up 60 vaccination centers, providing up to 2,000 doses a day, across the state to administer doses to first responders. There are about 45,000 first responders in the state.

The Northampton site, which will run Monday through Thursday, is reserved for first responders from Northampton, Easthampton, Williamsburg, Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Southampton and Westhampton.

In Amherst, the Bangs is set aside for those working for Amherst, Hatfield, Hadley, Belchertown, Granby, Pelham, South Hadley and Ware. The dates and hours were still being determined.

In addition, another site will be at the Greenfield Senior Center for first responders from several Franklin County communities, including Deerfield, Sunderland, Leverett, Shutesbury and Whately.

At UMass, where the Moderna vaccine will be used, the first doses will be given Jan. 11 and 13 from 2 to 7 p.m., and Jan. 12 and 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the second dose of the regimen coming four weeks later, beginning Feb. 8. A professional ID or license confirming a person’s status as a first responder will have to be presented in advance.

UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said state officials approached UMass about setting up the clinic, recognizing the experience the university has had as an asymptomatic testing site for the region.

“We absolutely welcome them and want to provide the service,” Blaguszewski said.

Online registration for the UMass site will begin by Wednesday at umass.edu/coronavirus/vaccine. Other online registration sites will go live during the week.

The state is offering a variety of options for first responders, including administering vaccinations onsite at their jobs if their agencies meet certain criteria.

The state has already begun administering doses to residents and staff of long-term care facilities and medical workers and hospital staff caring for COVID-19 patients.

Even with the arrival of the initial doses of vaccine, the state is looking at some tough months ahead before the shots are made more widely available to the public, Baker said at a Monday afternoon press conference.

“We still have some tough days in front of us,” Baker said. “It’s important for us to do the things that stop the spread every day here in the commonwealth.”

About 287,000 first doses of the vaccine have been shipped to Massachusetts and just over 116,000 doses have been administered, Baker said. Massachusetts has a population of about 6.9 million.

Baker also applauded the opening of a field hospital in Lowell to help cope with an increase in COVID-19 patients in the state.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.