Opinion: Prioritize Marion’s most vulnerable for vaccines

Mar 3, 2021

To not send the second doses for our town’s most vulnerable population is completely unacceptable

I am a member of the Marion Board of Health. I have been on 100 meetings with Department of Public Health over the last year, almost to the day. We, as a board and as a town, have done everything DPH has asked of us. We have encouraged mask wearing until the state changed it from a guideline to a rule. We have encouraged social distancing again without the rule for many months. We have met as an incident command team and counted cases and deaths, pursued contact tracing, procured supplies, and tried our best to keep our town healthy.

When we were asked, we stepped up as a town and vaccinated 4 towns worth of first responders. We set up a tent and vaccinated people right in their cars in a wonderfully choreographed clinic.

Then we went on to vaccinate the oldest and most vulnerable in our community. When the state asked our 85-101-year-olds to use a computer, drive an hour, get out of their car and walk miles to get their shot, Marion called each one on the phone and helped them sign up on the website to get their vaccines in their car, right in town at the Senior Center. The state promised us on every call that we would be able to offer this same group second shots. It’s a travesty that we can’t keep vaccinating in a system that works so much better than Gillette. But to not send the second doses for this vulnerable population is completely unacceptable! We even called all 100 to set up the second dose appointments. Then the state CHANGED THEIR MIND and said they ran out and would not send us second doses. 100 more calls and 100 more for when (if) we get the doses.

We look at other states in CT, VT, PA and see many more age groups completed. The missteps and changes in plans are absolutely killing us here in MA. You need to honor the second doses for towns that did as we were asked. And setting up a car-based clinic at Gillette is absolutely needed. I waited in the snow, with my feet in a puddle to accompany an 81-year-old from the next town over. Then we walked so far for another half an hour, until finally she could get her shot 1 hour after her appointment. And she gets the burden of doing that again four weeks later. And you want me to tell a 101-year-old that she has to do that?

Somebody ought to be looking in the mirror and feeling pretty badly about the job they are doing. I guess it’s Charlie Baker. He picked the wrong set of people to do this roll out. And teachers, who should have been sooner, are being added when we can’t give second doses?

Think again, please, before you leave our eldest population in the lurch.


Dot Brown

Vice Chair, Marion Board of Health