Flu clinic open to public on Nov. 7

Island health organizations band together to offer 1,250 flu vaccines for those who want one.

Martha's Vineyard Hosptial CEO Denise Schepici and COO Claire Seguin say MVH is about to administer its 8,000th dose of the vaccine for COVID-19.

An Island-wide partnership of health organizations will be offering a flu clinic open to the public on Nov. 7, according to officials at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

The clinic will be open from 9 am to 1 pm, according to hospital CEO Denise Schepici. The clinic will offer regular-dose vaccines for pediatric and adult patients. 

“The clinic is available to anyone on the Island. There is no out-of-pocket expense for the flu shot, one’s insurance will cover the cost,” hospital chief nurse and chief operating officer Claire Seguin said. 

The clinic is a collaboration between the hospital, the Island Health Clinic, the boards of health, public safety officials, EMS, and medical reserve corps. Vaccines were made available from the hospital and Island Health Care. There will be 1,250 available vaccines for the clinic, a number based on prior years’ experience, according to Seguin.

Seguin said flu shots are important, especially this year, because the more people vaccinated, the fewer people admitted to the hospital. Flu symptoms are also similar to COVID-19, so if more people are vaccinated, the flu can be ruled out. She added that the flu can break down an individual’s immune system, and it is possible to get both the flu and COVID-19. “In general, it’s good to get a flu shot, so this is a great year to do it,” Seguin said. 

High-dose vaccines for those over the age of 65 are not available at the flu clinic. Those seeking high-dose vaccines should contact their primary care provider or check with local pharmacies. The hospital is offering high-dose vaccines independent of the clinic.

Seguin said the clinic might have been too complicated with two different doses, and thought having a single dose that reached most of the population on the Island would be best.

Those attending the clinic will need to fill out a vaccine registration and consent form, which will be made available on town websites and at town halls. For those who are not driving, a walk-in clinic will be made available at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. Those driving to the clinic should not go to the high school, and instead will be directed to a to-be-determined staging area. The staging areas will open at 8 am on Nov. 7. Patients should make sure to bring their insurance cards and forms. 

Those without insurance will be able to receive a flu shot at the clinic at no cost.

Since September, the hospital has independently vaccinated 3,240 patients.

Two weeks ago, the hospital confirmed a COVID-19 patient had been admitted to the hospital. The patient was discharged a day later. Schepici said the patient was not at a level of care that required them to be transferred off-Island.

Schepici said there continues to be an uptick in cases across the state. “There are over 500 hospitalizations in Massachusetts, which is up from 300 at its lowest,” Schepici said. “We are seeing a peak up.”

She stressed the need to wear masks, social distance, and wash hands to continue keeping the virus at the bay.

Schepici also said several organizations on the Island are working to address the homelessness issue on the Island. Earlier this month, the hospital approved a $150,000 grant to provide support for Island families and individuals who do not have a permanent home through a night shelter and warming center.

Speaking on Halloween, Schepici suggested families follow the guidance laid out by the state and the Centers for Disease Control on appropriate Halloween celebrations. “I don’t want to be the naysayer, but please be careful. Take all the precautions; it’s not a time to let our guard down,” she said. 

Schepici and Seguin both acknowledged that wearing a mask would be easy, but reminded people that a scary mask wouldn’t cut it. “You’ve got to double-mask,” Seguin said.

The hospital has now tested 5,833 patients since testing began in March. Of those, 50 have tested positive, 5,692 have tested negative, and 91 are pending results. There are currently no patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

TestMV has tested 17,281 individuals with 37 positives, 16,945 negatives, and 299 pending results.

There were no new cases of COVID-19 reported Monday, but an individual who previously tested positive was retested and tested positive again, resulting in an increase in the total number of COVID-19 cases at TestMV.

The town of Aquinnah has tested 299 individuals. Of those, 293 have tested negative and six are pending results.

The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health have confirmed another case, bringing the Island’s total number of confirmed cases since March to 87.

Of the Island’s 87 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 83 are no longer symptomatic and have been released from isolation. Two cases are still being monitored by public health officials. Information on two other cases was not yet available.

Through contact tracing, the cases of 31 individuals, or 36 percent of the Vineyard’s cases, have been linked to another individual.

Due to the hospital, boards of health, and the town of Aquinnah all reporting their own data at different times of day, and due to some people being tested at multiple sites, exact numbers can be difficult to calculate. Also, due to some patients being tested at the hospital and TestMV, the number of confirmed cases from each testing site and the total number of cases can not add up.

Of 87 confirmed cases, 52 are female and 35 are male. Of those, 17 of the cases are 50-59 years old, 18 are 20-29 years old, 12 cases are 60-69 years old, 15 are 30-39 years old, 13 are 20 years old or younger, six are 40-49, and six are 70 years or older.

The boards of health are also reporting on probable cases. The Island’s total number of presumed positives is 24. Of those, 21 were positive antibody tests, and three were symptomatically positive.

Of the probable cases, 14 are female and 10 are male. Of the 24 presumed positive cases, seven are aged 60-69, five are aged 50-59, three are aged 40-49, five are aged 20-29, two are under 20 years old, and two are over the age of 70.

Massachusetts continues to see positive cases of COVID-19 across the state. On Tuesday, there were 821 new cases and five new deaths. Overall, the state has confirmed 142,295 cases since March and a total of 9,537 deaths from COVID-19.