First Weekend of Expanded Capacity Clinic is an Unbridled Success
Additional Clinic Sessions Scheduled with Additional Sites Expected this Spring
AMESBURY — Amesbury Fire Chief Ken Berkenbush and West Newbury Health Agent Paul Sevigny, on behalf the nine-community Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative, are proud to report that the first weekend of the newly expanded COVID-19 vaccination clinic was a success, with 2,404 patients receiving a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
More than 2,000 hours of volunteer labor went into the Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. clinic sessions at Amesbury High School.
“This community-driven effort has produced results, and we are hearing some of the most inspiring feedback of our careers from our residents. It has been a big lift to expand our clinics from 300 to 1,200 doses per day, but we have shown that when cities and towns come together we can accomplish great things,” Chief Berkenbush said. “On a personal note, after all we have collectively been through over the past year, the career personnel and volunteers alike are in incredible spirits, because we feel like we are actually helping bring our residents closer to a return to normal life.”
Saturday and Sunday represented the seventh and eighth days of the nine-community regional clinic and the first sessions in Amesbury after two clinics at the Newburyport Council on Aging and four others at the Dr. John C. Page School in West Newbury.
Prior to Saturday, the clinic was running at 103% efficiency, with zero wasted doses. The sessions on Saturday and Sunday continued this run with 2,340 allocated doses received and 2,404 doses actually drawn and injected into patients’ arms, continuing a remarkable 103% utilization rate. There were zero wasted doses either day over the weekend. The 2,404 drawn doses by the Beverly Hospital pharmacy staff was remarkable considering that one of the vials was delivered damaged to the clinic and had to be discarded. Even with the damaged vial, the pharmacy staff drew more than enough doses.
“Our pharmacy staff has been a remarkable secret weapon, unseen in a private room as they do their work, they have literally provided the lifeblood of this clinic since the beginning,” Sevigny said.
The successful session comes on the heels of Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent announcement that the Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative Vaccine Clinic will be allowed to continue in an expanded role as the first approved regional vaccination site under the state’s new guidelines.
“My husband and I both got our first doses, and all I can say is ‘wow,'” said Byfield resident Tracy Tullercash. “Kudos to whomever planned the event, volunteered at the event and made sure it all went smoothly. Helpful, knowledgeable, caring people everywhere we looked and went. Made what could have been a scary, chaotic, confusing event a pleasure. Their hard work did not go unnoticed.”
The collaborative plans to utilize additional sites including a possible drive-through clinic location at the Salisbury Beach State Reservation parking lot as weather improves. Locations in Groveland, Georgetown and West Newbury are also on standby.
“We have learned that we can grow this clinic further if we have the doses. We have the staff and volunteers to expand,” Chief Berkenbush said. “We greatly appreciate the support and confidence of Governor Baker and the Department of Public Health in allowing this locally-driven operation to continue.”
The Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative comprises Amesbury, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury and West Newbury and will also offer open appointments on the state’s vaccination website.
Those eligible for a vaccination can visit mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine and residents can also search for a vaccination location near them by entering their zip code here. As always, seniors in the nine communities should contact their local council on aging for appointment assistance.
JGPR is providing communications services to this effort on a pro bono basis.