North holds first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for seniors

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Firefighter/EMT Armani Flores (far right) administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Louise Thomas at a clinic held on Wednesday, Feb. 17. This was the first clinic in North Attleborough held for seniors age 75 and older. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
Jennie Bousquet, program coordinator for the North Attleborough Senior Center, speaks to seniors after they get their vaccinations at a clinic held on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

As the phases of the COVID-19 vaccine continue to move forward, seniors in North Attleborough 75 years and older attended the town’s first clinic for this age group.

Held on Wednesday, Feb. 17, the clinic was by appointment only and held at North Attleborough High School, which was closed for the winter vacation. One hundred and thirty doses were administered by the town’s paramedics and firefighters. Seniors were asked to wait in a separate area to ensure they didn’t suffer any adverse side effects. Employees of the senior center and first responders walked the clinic to answer questions and check to see how they were doing.

It’s a proud day,” said Fire Chief Chris Coleman, who was at the clinic.

Health Director AnneMarie Fleming said the clinic went smoothly. Anyone entering was asked a series of questions to determine if they were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or had been outside the state or around someone confirmed to have the virus.

They’re happy to be able to do this locally,” said Fleming.

Other vaccination clinics have been established at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro and CVS in Seekonk.

Carolyn Corbett said she wasn’t nervous about getting her dose and spoke highly of the town’s Senior Center, which helped coordinate the clinic. She received her dose shortly after arriving and said the process was well-run.

It didn’t even hurt,” she said of the injection.

Seniors are among those most at risk if they contract COVID and have had a challenging year as a result. The Senior Center was closed for weeks after the pandemic began, and programming yet to fully resume due to the risk. This has left many seniors homebound, unable to see friends or family. Corbett said she misses sitting around her yard with her friends, that it always helped to lift her mood. Once the pandemic ends, she hopes to visit her grandson and great-grandchildren in El Paso, Texas.

It helps to talk to people our age,” she said.

Seniors were asked to wait 15 minutes after getting their COVID-19 vaccinations to see if they would experience any immediate side effects. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

Louise Thomas was eager to get her vaccination, and said the system to make an appointment was very straightforward. Thomas didn’t have any doubts about the vaccination, saying that since she gets a flu shot, it made sense to sign up for the COVID clinic. During the last year she has kept in touch with her neighbors and spent time enjoying her audiobooks, particularly those of Stephen King’s works.

The Senior Center is great,” she said. “We’re very lucky to have them.”

One issue has been the availability of the vaccine. This phase of the rollout was slated to begin at the start of February, but a shortage of doses caused it to be pushed back. Fleming said that North Attleborough is up to 100 doses weekly, and these are being shared with Plainville. The town hasn’t received any vaccine this week, but Fleming hopes that more doses will arrive next week, allowing the town to hold more clinics. In addition, communication with the Mass Department of Public Health has been difficult, and new information can sometimes change the town’s ability to hold its own clinics or require that more people sign up than may qualify.

The uncertainty is the challenging part,” said Fleming.