By Luke Canavan
FRAMINGHAM – Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer held a virtual community Zoom hour today, February 2, alongside Interim Framingham Health Department Director Alexandra DePalo (pictured top right) and MetroWest Medical Center CEO Ava Collins (pictured bottom) to discuss the COVID-19 virus and Framingham’s rollout of the vaccine.
The Zoom hour first started with some general background information about recent COVID-19 virus trends in Framingham.
Due to these recent trends, the Framingham Public Health Department has been connecting families with services for isolating in place, including emergency food, rental and mortgage assistance, fuel assistance, and temporary housing.
They also briefly touched upon the Project Beacon free testing site on 484 Franklin Street, at the Framingham State University Commuter Parking Lot. Tests are by appointment only and can be made by registering online at Project Beacon COVID-19.
After a quick overview of general information, they moved on to discuss the vaccine in great detail.
Phase 2, Part 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout began on February 1, 2021, allowing anyone over the age of 75 to receive the vaccine, in addition to anyone eligible from Phase 1. However, this does not mean that Phase 1 is over.
Many people from Phase 1 are still currently receiving their vaccines. To learn more about the phases of the vaccine distribution plan and whether or not you are eligible to receive the vaccine, visit Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Vaccination Phases. Any questions or concerns about eligibility can also be sent to COVIDemail@example.com.
DePalo then went on to discuss how Framingham is currently allotted a maximum of 300 doses of the vaccine per week.
“Every Monday we put in a request to receive the vaccine,” said DePalo. “Usually around Wednesday we learn what amount of our request has been granted. Sometimes we get the full 300 doses, and sometimes we don’t.”
To explain why they can only request a certain amount of doses per week and why it can be difficult to be granted the full amount, DePalo reminded everyone that “there is a global demand for this vaccine.”
It is important to understand that cities and towns around the world are all trying to gain access to the same vaccine.
“As time passes, we do expect the number of weekly approved vaccines to increase, as well as the number of available location sites,” added DePalo.
On February 6, the City of Framingham plans to administer 300 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Keefe Vocational Technical High School, 750 Winter Street, as well as subsequent Saturdays.
it is possible that appointments will be cancelled due to ineligibility, and people who have been put on the waitlist will be contacted.
“The waitlist function is available once all appointments are filled. The way this works is that if someone cancels an appointment or becomes ineligible after signing up, then we email the next individual on the waitlist to let them know there is an open appointment,” said DePalo. “We had 300 appointments, and the waitlist far exceeded that, [and because of this] we are not going to get through the entire waitlist due to high demand.”
The waitlist does not currently transfer from week to week, so if you are on the February 6, 2021 waitlist and do not get contacted for an appointment, you will not automatically be put on the waitlist for the following week. However, they realize the inconvenience of this and are working a way for the system to carry over each week.
In order to increase your likelihood of receiving a vaccination early on, it is important to remain up to date on the Framingham COVID-19 Website and look out for announcements regarding the vaccine.
To book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination, visit MA Immunizations and search for the Framingham vaccination site.
DePalo wanted to make it known that they are very aware of the current technological barriers vaccination sign-ups present.
If someone does not have access to a device or internet connection, it can be very hard for them to make an appointment online. Because of this issue, they are currently working on a call-in system that will allow people to make appointments directly over the phone.
DePalo also recognizes that even if someone is able to make an appointment, they still might have difficulty getting to the appointment due to transportation issues. Therefore, they are also currently working on some kind of transportation system that will allow people without vehicle access to get to and from vaccination sites.
Throughout the call, all three speakers were very avid about everyone receiving the vaccine.
“Certainly we encourage everyone to get the vaccine when they are eligible,” said Collins.
It is important to note that while the vaccine will certainly help fight the virus, it is not the be-all, end-all solution. “Whether you’ve received the vaccine or not, it is still important that you implement hand-washing, social distancing, and wearing a mask,” said Collins.
Mayor Spicer finished up the call by reminding everyone how easy it is for rumors and misinformation to spread. “[I] can’t stress enough [how important it is] to look to our site constantly for up to date information,” said Spicer.
In closing, and above all else, Spicer encouraged everyone to “be patient.”
Luke Canavan is a spring 2021 SOURCE intern. He is currently a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studies Communication and English. He is passionate about film, television, writing, and literature, and upon graduation, he hopes to work in the entertainment industry full-time, where he can pursue his love for storytelling.