Tri-Town first responders vaccinated at Marion clinic

Jan 14, 2021

MARION — Hundreds of first responders have received the first round of the covid vaccine, thanks to a clinic at the Benjamin D. Cushing Community Center. 

The drive-through clinic, held on Jan. 13 and 14 and similar to an October flu vaccine clinic held by Marion, was the first major rollout of the vaccine in the Tri-Town. 

“We didn’t have control over this and we’ve finally turned the corner and now we’re going on the offensive,” said Marion Police Chief Richard Nighelli. 

When first responders arrived at the clinic, their IDs were verified with names on a list before they drove under a large tent to receive the vaccine, administered by paramedics from Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester and Wareham. 

“It’s a testament to, when all towns come together for a common goal, what can be done,” Nighelli said.

At the clinic, shots were administered while first responders were still seated in their vehicles. 

Then, there was a 15-minute waiting period where the first responders were monitored in case they had a negative reaction to the vaccine.

“I would say it’s safe to say that we had more than half the department take the vaccine,” said Nighelli. 

Police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel were all eligible for the vaccine. Although some eligible first responders opted not to take the vaccine, Town Administrator Jay McGrail said that extra doses were able to be put to use and given to senior citizens in congregate care settings. 

“We filled the void with some of those groups,” McGrail added.

Marion has also applied to be a regional testing site for the general public when the vaccine becomes more widely available. 

McGrail said that a similar structure would be used for those clinics if they are able to happen, but extra space would need to be allocated for the 15-minute monitoring period to reduce bottlenecking following the administration of the vaccine. 

For a first run though, McGrail was satisfied. 

“We’re just proud to be able to take the lead on it,” he said. 

But, McGrail added, the clinic would never have come together without the work of Nighelli, Fire Chief Brian Jackvony and Public Health Nurse Lori Desmarais. 

“The two chiefs and Lori did an incredible amount of work,” the town administrator said. 

Even though Marion was only approved as a first-responder vaccine site earlier in January, the early prep work for the clinic began months ago. 

“There was a lot of planning that went into today,” Nighelli said. 

And with around three weeks before first responders are able to receive the second and final dose of the vaccine, Marion is already preparing to hold another clinic. 

McGrail said the town applied to be the site of a second-round clinic for first responders, and is now waiting for approval. 

But for now, town officials can take a bow, and maybe a short rest. 

“We’re exhausted,” McGrail said.