Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has administered more than 10,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, one year after testing for the virus began at the hospital — 6,537 first doses, and 3,531 second doses.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, hospital president and chief executive officer Denise Schepici and chief nurse and chief operating officer Claire Seguin urged people to be patient now and in the future, as vaccine supply continues to be low.
“Even though by mid-April everyone will be eligible, it unfortunately does not mean everyone will get an appointment for a vaccine by then,” Schepici said. “The challenge as you know will be the supply we receive from the state, and in turn the supply the state receives from the federal government.”
The hospital is ready and able to administer up to 1,000 vaccines a day, but Schepici reiterated it all depends on the supply it receives from the state. She also said there has been no news of when vaccine supply will increase. As of now, the hospital learns how many vaccine doses it will receive on a week-by-week basis.
“It’s frustrating all around,” Schepici said. “But I want to believe it sounds like they’re manufacturing more and it’s getting better, but how it gets distributed is decided at the federal level.”
The state is using 2019 census data to allocate vaccine doses, but Seguin said the state is aware there has been “COVID migration” to the Island.
This week, the hospital has scheduled 241 first doses and 1,614 second doses. Seguin said she expects similar numbers for the sign-ups on Saturday, March 27, when eligible individuals can sign up at 8 am for appointments on March 30 and 31. The hospital is also holding a special vaccine clinic for K-12 staff and educators on March 27.
As of March 18, the hospital has given 36 percent of the Dukes County population their first dose, and 15 percent of the population both doses.
“Looking at other counties in the state, we compare very well in terms of giving the shots; as always, we wish we could give more if we had the supply,” Seguin said.
Schepici and Seguin said they both understood the frustration with wanting to get an appointment, but again asked people to be patient. Seguin added that each week the hospital is working to improve its website, but the frustration is coming from the low vaccine supply.
The hospital is also considering a preregistration system similar to the state, which will allow people to sign up and be notified when they are given an appointment, but Seguin said there are currently no plans to implement that system this week. “We’ve definitely considered it. There’s some technical things we’d have to work through, and decisions, to make all of that work,” Seguin said.
Since the hospital is a state site, anyone who is eligible can sign up and get a vaccine at the hospital. Seguin said the hospital does not collect information on where people live, but has heard from some of the vaccine team that there are people from off-Island getting vaccines at the hospital.
“There are some people who have come from off-Island, but I think the vast majority who we’re vaccinating are from the Vineyard,” Seguin said.
It was one year ago on March 23 that the hospital began testing for COVID-19. Even with low vaccine supply and extremely high demand, looking ahead to the spring, Schepici was optimistic. “Spring has arrived and hope is in the air, and it feels good,” Schepici said.
Eligibility for vaccines expanded Monday, with individuals aged 60 and over, workers in transit, grocery stores, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, and public works, and public health workers now able to sign up.
The next eligible cohort will be on April 5 for individuals aged 55 and over, and those with one chronic health condition. The general public, 16 and older, becomes eligible on April 19, according to the plan announced by Gov. Charlie Baker last week.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts advanced to step one of phase four Monday. The new phase allows sports venues such as Fenway Park and TD Garden to reopen with limited capacities. Restrictions on out-of-state travel are also reduced, particularly with those who have been vaccinated.
Weekly COVID report
The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health have switched to a weekly COVID-19 report that will be published on Mondays with data from the previous week.
On Monday, the boards of health reported nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the week of March 14 to 20.
Of the nine cases from the hospital, seven were symptomatic and two were asymptomatic. There were also three new probable cases reported.
The Vineyard reported the majority of its confirmed cases last fall, with 191 cases in November and 235 cases in December. The previous monthly highs were 32 cases in October and 18 in July.
In total, there have been 949 confirmed positive results on the Island — 467 males and 482 females. There have also been 58 probable cases — 32 male and 26 female. There have been 351 cases — 37 percent of the total — that have been linked to at least one other case. In most instances, those involved family members or small social groups. The Island has had five clusters, including an October wedding (eight cases), Cronig’s Market (19 cases), a Bible study group (11 cases), M.V. Hospital (five cases), and Project Headway (four cases).
The hospital has now administered 14,889 tests, with 673 positive results. There have been 14,174 negative tests and there are 34 results pending.
TestMV, which is located in the parking lot at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, has now administered 35,010 tests, with 260 positive results, 34,432 negative results, and 318 tests pending.
The town of Aquinnah has conducted 442 tests, of which one has come back positive, 441 negative, with no pending results.
The Martha’s Vineyard public schools have administered 7,795 tests. Of those, four have tested positive. The public school data is updated once a week on Mondays, and for the third week in a row there were no new cases in the schools.
The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has reported a total of seven positive cases of COVID-19.
The hospital is continuing to update its website with daily COVID-19 data. As of Tuesday the hospital has conducted 14,991 tests with 684 positives, 14,277 negatives, and 22 pending results.
Due to how tests are conducted, there can be a discrepancy between the number of positive individuals and the number of positive tests reported.