Updated 5:15 pm
Martha’s Vineyard Hospital expects to vaccinate 70 percent of the Island’s 75-and-older population by the end of this week.
The hospital’s vaccine clinics have been running smoothly, according to hospital president and chief executive officer Denise Schepici. She stressed that individuals do not need to be hospital patients to receive a vaccine. She said the challenge all providers are facing is vaccine supply. Vaccine clinics began Monday, and will continue through Saturday this week.
Phase two of the state’s vaccine rollout, which started on Feb. 1, includes and begins with individuals 75 years and older. Hospital patients can sign up through Patient Gateway. Nonhospital patients can fill out an attestation form from the state’s website. Visit mass.gov/lists/covid-19-vaccine-attestation-form-translations to access the form.
The state has set up a call center for individuals 75 and older without access to the internet or who are unable to schedule their appointment online. They can call toll-free, 211, or 877-211-6277 for assistance.
The hospital is scheduling its oldest patients first, per the latest guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in phase two, group one, which are individuals 75 years and older.
The hospital has administered 702 doses to those 75 years old and older, which is 35 percent of the Island’s total. By the end of this week, the hospital expects to administer 700 more doses to the over-75 community. Seguin said the hospital expects to finish first-dose vaccinations of those 75 and older by the end of next week.
The hospital has also administered 738 doses to Island first responders and community healthcare workers.
With the hospital vaccine rollout running like a “well-oiled machine,” Schepici said, she’d like to get vaccines administered to the next group of eligible individuals in phase two — those ages 65 and older, those with two or more comorbidities, and staff and residents in low-income and affordable senior housing — but the hospital has not yet received permission or guidance from the state.
“If we have extra [vaccines], we’re going to make a push to get going,” Schepici said.
The cluster of seven hospital employees that tested positive for COVID-19 are doing well, according to Claire Seguin, chief operating officer and chief nurse. Three of those employees are back at work, and no hospital patients have been exposed.
Seguin said the vaccine becomes effective after the second dose, but varies depending on the person.
“A person who has been fully vaccinated and has had the time for the body to accept the vaccine may no longer be at risk for the severe effects of the virus, but that person can still be a carrier of the virus,” Seguin said.
There are three patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Two of the patients are in good condition, and the other is in fair condition.
Seguin said the patients in good condition generally require less medical intervention than those in fair condition, who may require more oxygen and monitoring.
The number of new cases on the Island has declined somewhat in the past two weeks, with 30 cases reported last week, 30 the week before that, and 48 the week before that. The most recent spike in cases came after the Christmas holiday, when the Island saw 173 new cases of COVID-19 between Jan. 4 and 15.
On Wednesday, Oak Bluffs closed the public library due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19. The library will be closed from Feb. 10 to 18 as contact tracing and testing of other employees are conducted.
“While the facility is closed, a deep cleaning and disinfecting regime will be implemented before reopening. All updates on the library’s status will be posted on the OBPL website. oakbluffslibrary.org,” the statement reads.
Schepici said she is concerned with the February school break, which begins Feb. 22, and doesn’t want people to have a false sense of security.
“We’ve got to take care; people are going to want to get together, kids are home,” Schepici said. “We will see a rise, we will see an increase.”
Schepici also mentioned the community forum being held on the Island Friday to discuss vaccines. She said there’s been confusion around the vaccine, and she wants to inform the public about what the hospital is doing. “We’re pretty much going to keep it open for questions,” Schepici said.
At the state level, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that younger caretakers who accompany residents ags 75 and older to mass vaccination sites will be eligible to get vaccines. All of those sites are off-Island.
The companion appointments will be made available beginning Feb. 11. Any caregiver who is supporting an individual over the age of 75 will be able to sign up for a shot.
“Any caregiver is eligible to receive the vaccine at the same site as their 75-year-old partner,” Governor Charlie Baker said at a press conference Wednesday. “This includes a family member or friend who is supporting someone who is 75 years or older.”
The hope, according to secretary of health and human services Marylou Sudders, is that the new eligibility will encourage more 75-year-old residents to get vaccines at mass vaccination sites.
“Someone who’s taking an older adult, a trusted companion, a caregiver, a family member with someone who is 75 or older will be vaccinated in tandem, to bring an extra level of comfort to those who may be hesitant or don’t want to bother a loved one to book an appointment,” Sudders said.
The new companion appointments are designated only for mass vaccination sites such as Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park. Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is a state-designated vaccination site, but not a mass vaccination site.
11 new COVID cases Wednesday
The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Wednesday — all from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital
The hospital has conducted 13,061 tests for COVID-19 since March. Of those, 627 have tested positive, 12,431 negative, and three are pending results.
There are currently three patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Two are in “good condition,” and one who was admitted last week is in “fair condition,” according to hospital communications specialist Marissa Lefevbre.
As of Tuesday, TestMV has conducted 32,379 tests since June. Of those, 247 have tested positive, 31,252 negative, and 880 are pending results.
Phase two, which began on Feb. 1, includes and begins with individuals 75 years and older. Hospital patients can sign up through Patient Gateway. Non-hospital patients can fill out an attestation form from the state’s website.
The state has set up a call center for individuals 75 and older without access to the internet or who are unable to schedule their appointment online can call toll free 2-1-1 or 877-211-6277 for assistance.
The hospital is scheduling its oldest patients first, per the latest guidance from the Massachusetts department of health in phase two group one which are individuals 75 years and older.
Phase two group two will consist of individuals 65 years and older and two or more comorbidities.
“The initial plan from the state was to vaccinate based on age and comorbidities (75 and older, 65 and older, individuals with 2 or more comorbidities) then last week the state made the adjustment for only 75+, based on age,” Lefevbre wrote in an email.
There were four new probable cases since Friday bringing the Island’s total to 53 since March.
The town of Aquinnah has conducted 416 tests, of which one has come back positive, 409 negative and six pending results.
The Martha’s Vineyard public schools have tested 3,560 individuals. Of those three have tested positive. The public school data is updated once a week.
On Friday, the hospital confirmed two additional staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
Last week, five hospital employees tested positive for COVID-19 — three after coming in contact with an infected patient and two from community spread. Of the two additional cases, one is connected to the COVID-positive patient and the other is connected to community spread.
There are 48 active cases on the Island, according to an expanded Friday report from the boards of health.
The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has reported a total of seven positive cases of COVID-19.
Due to how tests are conducted, there can be a discrepancy between the number of positive individuals and the number of positive tests reported.
The vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been reported since the end of October, when the Island’s first cluster of cases was linked to a wedding in October. Since then, the Island has seen 796 cases of COVID-19 — several times the 89 cases reported on the Island between when testing began in March.
In addition to the wedding cluster, which reported eight cases, clusters at Cronig’s Market, with 19 cases, and a Bible study group, with 11 cases, have also been reported.
New clusters were reported last week with a five-case cluster at the hospital and a four case cluster at Project Headway.
On the state level Wednesday, there were 1,920 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The state’s seven-day average of percent positivity continues to drop and is now at 2.82 percent — a steep decline from 8 percent high in early January. There are an estimated 52,372 active cases statewide. There were 82 new deaths, for a total of 14,821 COVID-19 deaths since March.
Updated with new COVID data. —Ed.