When the state handed out disappointing news for vaccinating teachers, Everett turned that news into a major victory and movement toward getting immunity to COVID-19 for senior citizens in the community.
Approximately 513 senior citizens were vaccinated over the weekend at Pope John High School in a quick-moving vaccination clinic set up by Mayor Carlo DeMaria and his administration.
Contracting with Cataldo Ambulance, the City was able to establish its own phone bank system to make appointments, get transportation for those that needed it with Mystic Valley Elder Services and use more than 500 of the 800 doses allotted by the state – originally hoped to be for teachers in the Everett Public Schools.
“This is the first step to getting back to the new normal,” said Mayor DeMaria.
“Thank you to City Staff and Cataldo EMS for spending your weekend assisting our residents. As the residents left, City staff made appointments for the second dose to ease the burden of our seniors. I look forward to continuing these clinics until all of our residents have the opportunity to be vaccinated.”
Communications Director Deanna Devaney said the doses were originally hoped to be used for the teachers in the school system, but when the state put the kibosh on that, the City was told they could vaccinate those 75 and over.
So, it was literally recreating the wheel over a few days.
There was no call center yet from the state to schedule appointments, so Devaney said the mayor put all hands on deck and City employees stood up an appointment phone bank on dime.
“Really, the mayor adapted and conquered here,” said Devaney. “He was able to take employees from all departments and put them on a phone bank. Everyone stepped up and got these seniors registered and it really worked very well.”
In addition to taking phone calls, the phone bank also began pro-actively calling those over 75 in congregate settings and getting them registered and securing transportation if need be.
“We used our networks – even making phone calls to every person over 75 and in a congregate setting – to get the word out,” she said. “We were registering people up to Sunday morning.”
The clinic took place at Pope John from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and they were able to get earlier appointments on Sunday to beat the snowstorm that hit later in the day.
Councilor John Hanlon said he observed the effort and gave it high praise during Monday’s Council meeting.
“It worked very smoothly,” he said. “The line moved so fast you wouldn’t believe there were so many people there. The City did a good job on that.”
The effort also earned praise from Councilors Michael Marchese and Michael McLaughlin too – among others.
Devaney said they will continue to do similar clinics as time goes on. “Our plan in the future is to continue doing these clinics with Cataldo as long as the vaccine is available,” she said. “The mayor’s goal is to give every resident the opportunity to get vaccinated in 2021.”