Health, News, Police/Fire

Marblehead, Swampscott first responders get their vaccinations

The inside of the Marblehead Council on Aging where COVID-19 vaccines are being administered. (Alex Ross )

MARBLEHEAD — First responders in Marblehead and Swampscott were among the first in the area to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, which were administered Monday at the Marblehead Council on Aging as part of the vaccination effort that is underway throughout the state.

“I am very happy that we are taking the next step in controlling this virus,” said Marblehead Police Chief Robert Picariello. “Many of my employees were very excited as well. I was in line with several, and I think there is a collective belief that we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Members of the Swampscott police and fire departments, as well as those in other emergency medical services, joined their colleagues from four additional towns — Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead and Salem — to kick off the inoculation program that will run throughout the week. First responders are the third priority group under Phase 1 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan.  

“It’s a historic day,” said Jeff Vaughan, director of public health in Swampscott. 

Between 70 and 75 first responders from town will be vaccinated this week, said Vaughan, and since they all work different shifts, he said the vaccination clinic has been divided into alternating morning and afternoon sessions until Friday. 

Since Monday’s session was in the morning, Tuesday’s will be in the afternoon, and the sessions will continue in a similar fashion until the end of the week, explained Vaughan. 

The first two days of the program will be headquartered at the Marblehead Council on Aging, located at 10 Humphrey St. The final three days on Jan. 13-15 will be based out of the Massachusetts Task Force-1 site at 43 Airport Road near the Beverly Regional Airport. 

David Greenbaum, a health agent for the city of Salem, said that there were 163 people signed up to be vaccinated Monday alone. He added that first responders were welcome to sign up and come to the designated site until noon. 

Members of the health departments from the five towns are responsible for administering the vaccines, including public health nurses who are “running the show,” said Vaughan. 

The nurses are also helping volunteers — including additional nurses from the Medical Reserve Corps — administer the vaccines. 

“They’re people who signed up for the Medical Reserve Corps years ago and learned all these different things, and finally they have a real place to come in and do them,” said Vaughan, who noted he will also be receiving the vaccination by the end of the week.   

According to its website, the MRC network consists of approximately 185,000 volunteers in roughly 800 community-based units located throughout the United States and its territories.

Upon their arrival at the Marblehead site, first responders will check in based on their town, and will then head down the hall and turn left into a gymnasium, where they will sanitize their hands before joining the line. 

After receiving their first dose of the vaccine, first responders will be asked to sit for a short period of time in the back of the gymnasium, where they will be monitored to ensure they don’t experience any adverse reactions. 

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