The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is making a big push to vaccinate the small Island population that hasn’t yet received a vaccine.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, chief nurse and chief operating officer Claire Seguin said the hospital has plenty of appointments available, and an ample supply of vaccines.
In addition, there are two pop-up clinics later this month. The clinics will be held on June 22 at the Chilmark Community Center from 9 am to 12:30 pm and the Chappaquiddick Community Center from 1:30 pm to 6 pm. Registration will be available through the community center websites. The clinics will also take walk-ins.
The COVID-19 vaccine bus is also returning to the Island June 5 to 9.
“Our biggest gap, looking at the data from the state, is the 20- to 29-year-old age range. So there’s been some targeted outreach there,” Seguin said.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 95 percent of Dukes County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 77 percent are fully vaccinated.
As of Tuesday, the hospital has administered over 25,000 COVID-19 vaccines — 13,188 first doses and 12,042 second doses.
The first group of people to receive vaccine doses, such as frontline healthcare workers, emergency responders, and those in long-term care facilities, are reaching their six-month anniversary of receiving the vaccine. When asked about how long COVID immunity lasts, Seguin said as of now, those individuals are being considered fully vaccinated. “We’re still following the vaccine data and the science on that. I don’t have a definite answer. I can just say folks are working on it and keeping us updated,” Seguin said.
Even with the majority of the Island population vaccinated, Dukes and Nantucket counties still have the highest positivity rate in the state. As of May 27, the two Islands have had a combined 2,917 positive cases since testing began in March 2020. Between May 9 and 27, the Islands have had a 5.28 percent positivity rate. The next highest is Bristol County, with a 2.39 percent positivity rate. State data combines Dukes and Nantucket in its weekly COVID reports. The boards of health report states that Dukes County alone continues to have the highest positivity rate in the state.
Tisbury remains the only Massachusetts municipality in the state’s “red” or highest COVID risk category, due to having 30 cases in the past two weeks and a positivity rate of 6.86 percent.
With Tisbury’s population just over 4,000, the number of cases needed to designate it as highest risk is 25. The state’s seven-day average of percent positivity is 0.8 percent. Towns with less than 10,000 residents are considered the highest risk for COVID-19 transmission if they have had more than 25 cases.
Oak Bluffs has the highest positivity rate, with 8.51 percent. Edgartown is second, with a 7.67 percent positivity rate, followed by Tisbury with 6.25 percent, and West Tisbury with 4.58 percent. Chilmark and Aquinnah are both at 0 percent.
Seguin said it’s uncertain why Tisbury was the lone municipality in the highest risk category. “It could be for a few reasons. One is the amount of testing we do, and the availability of testing on the Island. Second is our excellent contact tracing that is done by the Island health centers and their teams,” she said. “Finally, it could be related to folks living in close quarters where the virus could easily spread.”
Seguin urged the Island’s summer workforce to book an appointment and get a shot. “There is no cost to get it,” she added.
After almost a year and a half of living through a pandemic, Seguin said it’s OK for people to not drop their masks. “People should take their time reacclimating. We should all do it at our own pace and in our own comfort zone,” Segun said.
Variant testing on the Island has not shown anything new since the B117 U.K. variant was detected on the Island in April.