Vaccine bus headed to Vineyard

No registration needed for free, walk-up vaccines.

The mobile vaccine bus will offer both the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines. — courtesy Mary Breslauer

A medically equipped Yankee bus will be on-Island beginning this weekend to offer free Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccinations to Islanders who have been unable to get one through the hospital, according to a press release.

The bus will be at various locations beginning Saturday, May 15, through Wednesday, May 19, sent by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) through a partnership with the Martha’s Vineyard boards of health and Island Health Care (IHC).

“This is the missing link,” IHC CEO Cynthia Mitchell said in the release. “All of us, including the hospital leadership, which has been so responsive, felt we needed a way to get to folks where they are. Thanks to DPH, we can now make that happen.”

No registration is required, and walk-ins are welcome. Medical personnel will include English- and Portuguese-speaking staff. A schedule is still being formulated, but is expected to include early morning hours down-Island to serve tradespeople, weekends at places of worship, the TestMV site at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, and possibly Island schools for children between the eagles of 12 and 17 with parental or guardian consent. The bus includes onboard refrigeration, as well as six separate vaccination stations.

For up-to-date schedules, check social media sites @islandhealthcaremv and @covidtestmvofficial, as well as other local Facebook pages. Schedules will also be sent to The Times when available.

“The beauty of having the bus is that all people have to do is show up,” Edgartown health agent Matt Poole said in the release. “There’s no need to register in advance, and while bringing an ID or an insurance card is requested, all that’s needed is a name.” 

Since the bus is providing the two-shot Pfizer vaccine, DPH is expected to bring the bus back three weeks later to administer second doses.

Meanwhile, vaccine rollout is humming along at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, with 76 percent of Dukes County residents receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, and 49 percent fully vaccinated.

The hospital has administered over 20,000 total vaccine doses — 12,262 first doses and 8,805 second doses.

There were 13 new cases of COVID-19 between Sunday and Wednesday — three on Sunday, four on both Monday and Tuesday, and two on Wednesday.

New cases of COVID-19 declined for the third week in a row, with the Martha’s Vineyard boards of health reporting 32 new cases last week.

In an expanded report Monday, the boards of health reported that of the 32 positive test results between May 2 and 8, 17 were from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, 10 were from TestMV, two were from school testing, one was from the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and two were from other providers. Of the cases, 14 were symptomatic, six had no symptoms, and the status of 12 was unknown. 

In total, there have been 1,385 confirmed cases since testing began in March 2020, with 711 males and 674 females. 

Younger age groups continue to see the highest number of cases. Last week’s cases consisted of 10 cases aged between 11 and 19, seven in their 20s, five in their 40s, four in their 30s, and three younger than 10.

As of May 7, 18 students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School are in quarantine due to being a close contact of a positive case.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts is entering the next phase of its reopening plan, allowing some phase four, step two, outdoor industries to open again.

Large venues, such as indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks, will be allowed to increase capacity from 12 percent to 25 percent. Amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor water parks will be permitted to open at 50 percent capacity. Road races and other large athletic events will be permitted to take place with staggered starts, after submitting safety plans to the local board of health. Additionally, youth and adult amateur sports tournaments will be allowed for moderate- and high-risk sports.

Singing at performance venues, restaurants, and events is now allowed as well.


Testing data

As of Tuesday, the hospital has administered 17,832 tests, with 1,006 positive results. There have been 16,778 negative tests and 40 results pending. 

As of Monday, TestMV, which is located in the parking lot at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, has now administered 37,902 tests, with 355 positive results, 37,158 negative results, and 389 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 13,131 tests. Of those, 14 have tested positive.

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has reported a total of 11 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 four probable cases reported last week, for a total of 79 since March 2020. Of those, 45 are male, and 34 are female.

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.

For the first time in a long time, Massachusetts had zero COVID-19 related deaths Tuesday. In total, the state has lost 17,344 people to COVID. The state’s seven-day average of percent positivity is 1.32 percent. There have been an estimated 654,108 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts.