Barnstable County Clarifies COVID-19 Vaccination Process
Barnstable County Government seeks to clarify that although residents seventy-five years and older will be the next group eligible (Phase 2) to receive a COVID-19 vaccination beginning Monday, February 1, most will not find an available appointment immediately on Cape Cod. The reasons for the delay in the timeline are twofold: we are still in the process of vaccinating the initial eligible groups in Phase 1, and we do not yet have an adequate supply of the vaccine.
Barnstable County and all 15 local boards of health are committed to vaccinating our residents as soon as we receive the vaccine. Our policy is to register eligible candidates when we have their dose in-hand. Therefore, we will not immediately be making appointments for our residents ages 75 and up. When that time comes within the first few weeks of February, residents can search locations and register for their initial dose of vaccine on https://mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap
The number of vaccinations we have for our eligible residents depends on several variables, including the availability of doses from the federal government and how quickly the state distributes that vaccine across Massachusetts. There are multiple vaccination sites planned for Phase 2 residents to receive the vaccine on Cape Cod, including five regional sites coordinated by Barnstable County. These are anticipated to be operational in the first or second week of February. Pharmacies and grocery stores have partnered with the Commonwealth and will begin distributing Phase 2 vaccine as well. These sites’ ability to announce clinics or schedule appointments depends on whether the vaccine is in hand. If the vaccine has not yet been received or replenished, providers are not able to offer appointments.
It is important to note that we are still in the process of addressing the remainder of our Phase 1 eligible workers, which includes emergency responders, COVID-facing healthcare workers, workers and residents in congregate care settings, and non-COVID-facing healthcare workers.
The vaccines we were given for this first group were rapidly administered during clinics held at the Orleans DPW. Some eligible workers were unable to get their vaccines due to a lack of supply that we are still trying to replenish. We will be holding additional Phase I clinics as soon as we have the vaccine to do so.
“We urge Cape Codders to do three things – to pay attention to where they fit into the phases and sub-phases, expect that there be delays in availability of appointments and operating clinics due to shortages in the vaccine, and to be patient,” Director of Barnstable County Health and Environment Sean O’Brien said. “We will make every effort to keep you informed.”
A common question among Phase 2 residents on Cape Cod is where they can get on a waitlist for the vaccine.
“By the end of Tuesday, the Barnstable County COVID-19 Helpline received a total of 7,500 phone calls since its inception on January 19, and those were largely from senior residents under the impression that they could register for a vaccine on Cape Cod right away,” said Bethany Traverse, Health Communications Project Specialist. “We want residents to know that our clinics have been planned and staff is ready to assist our most vulnerable residents – those 75 and older – in getting their much-needed vaccine. However, because vaccine allocation is so limited, and because Barnstable County does not know when or how many vaccines will be received, we cannot register anyone yet. We are also unable to keep a waitlist. We assure you, as soon as we have the vaccine in hand, we’ll let our eligible residents know by every means possible”.
A map displaying locations where a resident can get vaccinations is accessible at https://mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap and linked at www.barnstablecountyhealth.org. The map will be updated frequently, with more sites coming online in our region. So far, visitors to these webpages will see that several CVS, Walgreens, and Stop & Shop locations, as well as the Orleans DPW site (designated for Phase 1 eligible candidates only), have been added with links to register. Keep in mind that if a given site does not have the vaccine, registration will not be open.
Barnstable County would also like to remind residents across Cape Cod that as appointments become available for our senior citizens, help those who need it navigate the online vaccine registration process. If a senior in your life does not use the Internet, such as a parent, grandparent, neighbor, or friend, please reach out to assist them. When registration is open for our County clinics, our COVID-19 Helpline staff will be available at (774) 330-3001 to help anyone who needs it.
As vaccine supply becomes steadier and we embark on vaccinating those most vulnerable to this virus in Phase 2, please also remember to continue taking precautions to inhibit community spread.
Visit www.barnstablecountyhealth.org for regular updates.