When Upper Cape first responders get the COVID-19 vaccine next week, they will be getting it in Sandwich.
The town has partnered with the police, fire, and emergency medical services in Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee, and on Joint Base Cape Cod to administer the vaccine to 250 members of those departments. Fire Chief John J. Burke said this represents more than a quarter of the Cape’s roughly 900 public safety workers.
Chief Burke said that he hopes to start vaccinating the Upper Cape first responders starting Monday, January 11, and the clinic will take place over the course of three days.
In total, he expects that between 80 and 100 first responders will be inoculated each day. All vaccines will be administered by Public Health Nurse Joanne Geake, who is the only person in town authorized to do so.
Chief Burke said that he is working on getting his department’s 36 paramedics trained to give the shot, too. The town’s physician, Dr. Ryan Bemis, has given the green light for the paramedics to administer the vaccine, but the state still needs to authorize it.
“We have one person trying to do the work of a dozen people,” he said.
The clinic will be held in the Human Services Building on Quaker Meetinghouse Road and the vaccine will be stored at a separate location. Security will be tight at both the Human Services Building and the vaccine storage site. No members of the public will be granted access to either location and the vaccine is not available to the general public at this time.
“Without the required credentials, you’re not getting in,” said Health Agent David Mason.
“We have set up a rotating schedule for three days with each department sending one-third of their staff each day as to not overrun one particular department,” Chief Burke said.
He said that each member will be given an appointment time. They will be asked to wait in their car until that time.
After receiving the vaccine, they will be asked to wait in their vehicles for 15 minutes to be monitored by an EMT. First responders who carry epinephrine autoinjectors (EpiPen), or meet criteria to need additional monitoring, will be looked after for half an hour in the vaccination room.
The Sandwich site is one of three on Cape Cod that have been designated for use in vaccinating first responders.
A drive-thru site is being prepared at the Old Jail Building on Main Street in Barnstable and will service first responders from Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, Harwich, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, and Yarmouth.
Those who work for the Town of Barnstable will receive their vaccines at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church on Falmouth Road in Centerville.
While the Human Services Building is being used to vaccinate this sector of the population, it may not be used for mass inoculation. Chief Burke said that with the general population being vaccinated closer to spring, they are also considering holding vaccination clinics similar to the flu shot clinics that were run at the former Henry T. Wing School.
Information about how to get vaccinated will be provided to the public when it is available.
The town is able to provide this service as a result of being approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a vaccine distribution site. This designation is also approved by the state Department of Public Health.
Ms. Geake said that the town has this approval because they are able to both handle and distribute the vaccine. The town is able to store just over 1,900 doses of vaccine.