Vaccine supply high as demand decreases

Hospital officials are encouraging Island community to get vaccinated.

A vaccine bus for children still has spots available for Sunday. -Jeremy Driesen

Vaccine supply at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is increasing as demand is dropping.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call Wednesday morning, hospital president and chief executive officer Denise Schepici said the drop in demand is troubling.

“There’s a bit of a trend we’re seeing statewide and nationally; just as we finally have a robust supply, the demand for vaccines is dropping,” Schepici said. “The governor has given the go-ahead, providing all data points in the right direction, to reopen the state on August 1. Let’s continue to do our part on Martha’s Vineyard to get our community vaccinated.”

The hospital is allowing people to get their second dose of the vaccine at the hospital — even if they got the first shot elsewhere — and can administer both Moderna and Pfizer. So far, 150 people who did not get their first dose on the Island have signed up to receive their second dose at the hospital.

The hospital has a limited supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and is working with Island Health Care (IHC) to bring them into the Island’s vaccine rollout.

The hospital doubled up on its order of the Pfizer vaccine amid an announcement that the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorize the use of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years old early next week.

“We don’t have an exact date,” Claire Seguin, chief nurse and chief operating officer, said. “Here at the hospital we have about 550 patients and community members that fall into that age group, and we probably have more that fall into that.” 

Seguin said the hospital has deep-freeze storage that it uses to hold the vaccine doses. Each vaccine is kept at different temperatures, but can be kept for several months.

After receiving a shipment of 4,040 vaccines through a partnership with Island Health Care last week, the hospital is set to receive a shipment of 2,200 Pfizer vaccine doses based on last week’s demand. 

“There was a lot of pent-up demand, so we thought when we had a whole bunch of new doses to give, those would fill up really quickly, and they didn’t. They filled up about halfway, but not as fast as we thought they would,” Seguin said.

The hospital is also continuing its COVID-variant testing, and is awaiting results on two samples sent to the state epidemiologist. 

As of 5 pm Tuesday, the hospital has administered a total of 19,630 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — 11,777 first doses, and 7,853 second doses. Seguin said 67 percent of Dukes County has received a first dose of the vaccine, and 42 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. The hospital is still on track for its goal to have the Island fully vaccinated by the end of May. “I think we can absolutely do it,” Seguin said. “We just want to get the word out — the process is a lot easier, and there are plenty of appointments.”

In the event a person wants to cancel an appointment, they should call the hospital to do so. Seguin said there have been instances where people book an appointment, but don’t show up. “We encourage people that if they have to change their vaccination appointment, they call and go through the proper channels, so we can give that shot to someone else,” Seguin said. 

Schepici said she wants the Island community and economy to get back to a semblance of normal, and the vaccine is a step in the right direction. “We encourage vaccines for everybody for that reason, and to prevent illness,” Schepici said. “The virus is still very potent, and it’s out there. I don’t want people to have a false sense of complacency.”


Testing data

The weekly number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues a downward trend, with the Martha’s Vineyard boards of health reporting 45 cases last week.

There have been 12 new cases this week — four on Sunday, five on Tuesday, and three on Wednesday.

The boards of health release an expanded COVID report every Monday with data from the previous week.

Of last week’s 45 cases, 34 were reported from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, seven from TestMV, three from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and one from the public school system.

Cases have continued to decline since the Island saw an uptick of 101 cases the week of March 28. In the following weeks, the Island reported 73, 77, and 61 cases before this week’s 45 cases. 

Of the 45 positive results, 27 were symptomatic. There were 13 in their 40s, nine between ages 11 and 19, eight in their 30s, five younger than 10, five in their 20s, three in their 50s, and two in their 60s. There are 496 cases linked to at least one other case.

To date, the Island has had 1,353 confirmed positive cases — 691 males and 662 females. 

At the public schools, one staff member at the Oak Bluffs School is in isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test, 12 students at the Edgartown School are in quarantine due to being in close contact with a COVID-positive person, and five students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School are in isolation due to a positive COVID test.

The Island has had eight COVID clusters, including an October wedding (eight cases), Cronig’s Market (19 cases), a Bible study group (11 cases), M.V. Hospital (five cases), Project Headway (four cases), King’s barbershop (eight cases), Shirley’s Hardware (all six staff), and the Barn Bowl & Bistro (nine cases). A cluster is defined as more than two people from different families or households with a shared source of infection.

As of May 4, the hospital has administered 17,529 tests, with 983 positive results. There have been 16,505 negative tests and 33 results pending. One patient is hospitalized in fair condition.

TestMV, which is located in the parking lot at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, has now administered 37,696 tests, with 345 positive results, 36,889 negative results, and 462 tests pending.

The town of Aquinnah has conducted 444 self-administered tests, of which one has come back positive, 443 negative, and no pending results.

The Martha’s Vineyard public schools have administered 12,295 tests. Of those, 12 have tested positive.

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has reported a total of 10 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.

There were also two probable cases reported last week, for a total of 72 since March 2020. Of those, 41 are male, and 31 are female.