AMESBURY – Over the weekend, the Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative health clinic administered first-dose COVID-19 vaccinations for the first time to members of the general public 16 years old and older.
The Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative health clinic, which has been administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible community members since January, began administering doses to those 16 and older for the first time this past weekend under the state’s phased distribution plan. This followed the announcement that anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to make an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts as of Monday, April 19.
“Our clinic this past Saturday was the first clinic at our regional collaborative that offered vaccinations to members of the general public who are 16 years old and older,” West Newbury Health Agent Paul Sevigny said. “While we have vaccinated younger individuals who were eligible to receive the vaccine at an earlier date under the state’s vaccine distribution timeline, this was our first general population clinic open to teens. The clinic is a good opportunity for the younger kids to get vaccinated so they can have a little more normalcy.”
Over the course of the clinic hosted Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25, approximately 3,487 Pfizer vaccines were administered to those who attended. The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine that is approved for those who are 16 years old and older. Both the Moderna and Janssen vaccines are only approved for those 18 and older.
Those under the age of 18 receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine were required to have a parent or guardian accompanying them at the clinic.
As such, many parents and children from surrounding communities traveled to Amesbury High School over the weekend to receive their first dose. On Saturday alone, approximately 15% of vaccinations were administered to individuals 16 or 17 years of age.
At the clinic, Amie Bezanson, of Amesbury, accompanied her daughter Ella, who received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“I’m a critical care nurse so it hasn’t really been an option for my family, they are getting the shot,” Amie Bezanson said. “Hopefully we can go back to some kind of reality or normalcy soon, travel again, be with extended family and not just our bubble … so that will be nice.”
Added Ella Bezanson, “I play softball, so when everything can be back to normal that will be way better.”
For many individuals who have received the vaccine already, this is the first step for them in returning to some sense of normalcy.
“We will definitely feel a lot safer going out to the beach and everything else in the summer that we like to do,” Kayla Plotz, of West Newbury, said. “It will be way nicer to hang out with family knowing that we won’t be sick because of the vaccine.”
Plotz was accompanied by her mother Corinne Plotz at the clinic on Saturday.
Those who received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose at the clinic this past weekend are scheduled to receive their second at the Nook Middle School, 70 Low St., Newburyport, in three weeks.
“With the general public now eligible to receive vaccines, we encourage all of our community members to take advantage of our local clinic,” Amesbury Fire Chief Ken Berkenbush said.
The Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative health clinic has vaccine clinics scheduled out until mid-June. Depending on the demand for additional clinics more dates may be added.
The Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative comprises Amesbury, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, and West Newbury.
JGPR is providing communications services to this effort on a pro bono basis.