Covid-19 vaccination site to open in Wareham

Feb 2, 2021

This story has been updated to reflect that the clinic will now open Wednesday, Feb. 10. The story was also updated to clarify the procedure for signing up to receive a vaccine through Southcoast Health. 

A long-awaited covid-19 vaccination site will be opened in Wareham at the Gleason Family YMCA next week. Southcoast Health announced on Feb. 2 that it will begin vaccinating anyone eligible for the vaccine starting Wednesday, Feb. 10.

The clinic will begin by serving any nearby residents aged 75 or older — even if they do not have a Southcoast Health primary care physician — and will expand vaccine eligibility to more people over time, per state guidance.

As vaccines are available, eligible people who have signed up for Southcoast’s MyChart will be randomly selected to be asked to schedule an appointment. Vaccinations will be administered by appointment only. 

Those interested in getting vaccinated can sign up for the MyChart portal, which automatically adds people to Southcoast’s list of prospective vaccine recipients, at mychart.southcoast.org/mychart/signup.

Current Southcoast patients who are 75 years or older and are unable to sign up for MyChart can expect to receive a call about scheduling a vaccination appointment.

For more detailed information about the sign-up process, go to southcoast.org/covid-vaccine.

“You could be invited to schedule an appointment as early as this week,” said Southcoast spokesperson Shawn Badgley.

If technology is a barrier, he added, healthcare providers will also reach out to patients to help them book appointments. But he emphasized that patients should not call their doctor to ask for an appointment. 

“We just want the community to understand that our offices are not currently capable of scheduling [them],” he said. “They’re experiencing an incredibly high call volume right now.”

The vaccination site at the Y will be one of three regional vaccination stations run by Southcoast Health, including one in Fall River starting Feb. 8 and another in Dartmouth starting Feb. 9. 

Badgley said that Southcoast Health hopes to administer 2,500 doses in the first three days the clinics are open.

“Basically the mandate is to use 80% of the doses to be eligible for doses the next week,” he noted. “We’re not going to have a lot of doses on hand...We’re just going to take it week by week. The more supply we can get, the more residents of southeastern Massachusetts we can vaccinate.”

“Right now it’s really about scaling up,” he added. “Hopefully in a few weeks, we’ll go from vaccinating 2,500 people to vaccinating 25,000 people per week!”

Currently only residents aged 75+ are eligible for the vaccine. As more people become eligible for the vaccine per the state’s plans, Southcoast will begin vaccinating those groups — eventually including the general public later this spring. Later in Phase 2 of the state’s rollout plan, eligible groups will include those aged 65 and over, those with two or more comorbidities, residents of shelters and elder housing, and essential workers.

More information on Phase 2 and the covid-19 vaccine can be found at mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-covid-19-vaccination-phases#phase-2-.

Other vaccination sites 

Those eligible for the vaccine can find appointments at other providers around the state using the state’s website mass.gov/CovidVaccineMap.

But Council on Aging Director Missy Dziczek said those age 75+ — and their children, who have attempted to help navigate the system on their behalf — have struggled with the state system. 

“[Some seniors] have no idea how to get on a website,” she said. And even computer-savvy seniors and adults ran into trouble, she said: Consistently, there were no available appointments. 

Dziczek described the state’s vaccination effort so far as “such a bad rollout.” She pointed out that it was a mistake not to provide a phone number for seniors to call for assistance. 

The Council on Aging has received dozens of calls from people who had questions or wanted to air their frustrations, Dziczek said.

“People are going on at midnight — people are spending hours on the website, trying to get through,” Dziczek explained. “And some people did get through. [...] I know of at least five people now who have gotten through and gotten appointments.”

Dziczek also said that the lack of vaccination sites in close proximity to Wareham presented an additional challenge for town seniors eligible for the vaccine.

“These people cannot be going to the Cape, to Carver, to Gillette Stadium, and waiting in line for a vaccine,” Dziczek said. 

Her advice to most people has been: “Be patient. Wait a week or two; let the kinks get ironed out.” 

She said she was hopeful that a Southcoast Health vaccination site in Wareham would improve things.

“It will work itself out,” she said. “We’ve waited a year. What’s another week or two, you know? But it should be local. With seniors, things should be local — not going far away.”