Vaccine clinic at YMCA suspends first dose bookings

Feb 12, 2021

This story has been updated to include comments from Wareham Selectman Alan Slavin.

Wareham’s Southcoast Health vaccination clinic at the Gleason Family YMCA will no longer be booking appointments for first doses of the covid-19 vaccine, according to a Feb. 12 release from the healthcare system to its patients.

The clinic at 33 Charge Pond Road opened on Feb. 10, giving 400 first doses to residents aged 75 and over as part of Phase 2 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

According to Southcoast Health, the state’s Department of Public Health is not supplying hospitals and healthcare systems with any more first-dose vaccines “for the foreseeable future,” noting that the clinic’s supply depends “entirely” on the state.

The vaccination site at the Y was one of three regional vaccination locations run by Southcoast Health, including one in Fall River that launched Feb. 8 and another in Dartmouth that started vaccinations on Feb. 9. Appointments to receive the first dose of the covid-19 vaccine have been suspended at all three locations.

Those who have already booked appointments for first doses — or those with appointments for second doses — are expected to still receive both of their vaccines. 

Southcoast had provided first doses to nearly 3,000 area residents at three sites in the past week, and was prepared to scale operations up to tens of thousands of vaccines per week, the statement noted.

“The state is prioritizing distributing their vaccine supply to their state-controlled mass vaccination sites and other entities administering the vaccine,” the release read. “To say we are disappointed would be a significant understatement.”

Alan Slavin, a member of Wareham’s Board of Selectmen, echoed Southcoast’s sentiment. He called the news “extremely disappointing,” before going on to say that he thought the state made “a terrible decision” in choosing only to prioritize state-controlled mass vaccination sites.

“It eliminates an operation that's super efficient that covers three areas in the southeast region,” Slavin wrote in an email, noting that the localized Southcoast clinics helped people 75 and over minimize travel. “The new location at Dartmouth at the former Circuit City location will not open till February 25th! So, people 75 and older have to wait another two weeks! When they could have gotten their shots in that two-week time frame.”

A statement from a Massachusetts covid-19 Response Command Center spokesperson noted that although the commonwealth is distributing more vaccines more quickly and through more locations, the supply of doses from the federal government “has remained the same for several weeks.”

“The Commonwealth will distribute more vaccines to high throughput locations, like mass vaccination sites, retail pharmacy sites, and community health centers until more vaccines are made available by the federal government,” the spokesperson stated. “The administration is hopeful more vaccines will arrive soon for more providers, including hospital systems.”

Once a new Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved, the Department of Public Health will have more vaccines available for hospital systems, according to the command center.

Massachusetts currently receives 100,000 first doses of vaccine each week, with hospital systems being the largest recipient to date.