During the past several days, Southcoast Health has proudly provided the first dose of the COVID vaccine to nearly 3,000 residents of our region. In a matter of days, an amazing team at Southcoast quickly mobilized three public vaccination clinics in the greater Fall River, New Bedford and Wareham regions. A scheduling process was developed that focused on simplicity and convenience for you, as you sought to make an appointment that fit your schedule and geographic location.
Patients have overwhelmingly reported positive experiences with our vaccine clinics, expressing gratitude to Southcoast clinical staff and leaving the vaccination clinics – second-dose appointment in hand – with a sense of lifesaving relief. What an amazing feeling for all of us.
Helping inspire this sense of hope is what Southcoast set out to do when we established these regional vaccination centers. We know that the community looks to our hospital and health care system during times of crisis, and we stepped up to get shots in the arms of as many people as possible, as quickly and fairly as possible.
Unfortunately, our efforts to vaccinate patients and other residents depend entirely on supply allocation from the state.
And though we communicated – and demonstrated – that our three successful Southcoast Health vaccine clinics combined are prepared to scale up to tens of thousands of vaccinations per week to serve our region, regrettably we learned yesterday that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) will not be sending additional first-dose vaccines to hospitals and health systems for the foreseeable future.
The state is prioritizing distributing their vaccine supply to their state-controlled mass vaccination sites and other entities administering the vaccine.
To say we are disappointed would be a significant understatement. Without vaccine supply from the state for at least the next few weeks, and with no commitment of future allocations, we are unfortunately unable to schedule any further first-dose appointments at this time.
As you can imagine we are devastated to have to inform you of this recent development. And, we anticipate that many of you will be just as disappointed. As your local healthcare provider, we maintain a responsibility to proudly serve our community as a leader and advocate for your health and wellness. We will continue to strongly advocate for the sufficient vaccine supply our region deserves, with a scheduling process that is convenient and simple, and from locations that are local and accessible to you.
In the meantime, we fully expect the state to honor its commitment to provide us with enough doses for individuals with existing appointments for both first and second doses. We will stay in close contact with those patients directly.
Regardless of the current circumstances, we strongly encourage everyone, when eligible, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. While we hope and advocate for additional first-dose supply, we will continue to serve you as a trusted resource for COVID health, wellness and vaccine information. Please stay connected with us for additional information and updates at www.southcoast.org, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and through text updates (https://www.southcoast.org/opt-in-for-text-updates/).
For more information from the Commonwealth and to find other locations administering vaccine, please call 2-1-1 or visit https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine. For answers to questions about the state’s vaccination program, you can contact MDPH via https://www.mass.gov/forms/contact-dph-by-web-form.
We will continue to work with the Commonwealth, municipalities, and community partners to ensure everyone has access to this safe and effective vaccine.