Attleboro mayor calls move to phase out most municipal clinics ‘complete disaster’
As the State of Massachusetts moves to phase out municipal vaccine clinics, local leaders are sounding the alarm that it could have devastating effects.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WLNE) – As the State of Massachusetts moves to phase out municipal vaccine clinics, local leaders are sounding the alarm that it could have devastating effects.
Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux is calling on the state to rethink their strategy to centralize vaccination efforts because he says it will likely make it harder for some to get the shot.
Municipal leaders in Massachusetts received this information from the Department of Health and Human services on Wednesday. It states that beginning March 1, only 20 cities and towns will continue to get first doses of the vaccine, effectively phasing out municipal clinics to prioritize regional and mass vaccination sites.
“I can see why on paper that might sound like it’s a good idea, but in practice it causes a lot of hardships for people,” said Heroux Thursday.
Heroux is one of many elected leaders asking for the state to reconsider, saying there should be a centralized registration process, but a decentralized vaccination effort so that access isn’t cut off to the most vulnerable residents.
“I am worried that some seniors are not going to be able to get it at all,” said Heroux. “I’m also worried that some people who don’t have the means of transportation are also now not going to be able to get it at all.”
Attleboro resident Margarida Furtado is worried she is one of those people.
“I do not have anybody to help me or to bring me anywhere,” said Furtado. “It makes me really sad.”
The City of Attleboro has vaccinated more than 500 people so far at the La Salette Shrine. Furtado says that would be much easier for her since it’s right up the road, and she can’t drive very far.
The closest mass vaccination site is at Gillette Stadium.
“We are old. My husband just had surgery two weeks ago. I never drove to Gillette Stadium,” explained Furtado. “It’s very hard for us. Very, very hard for us.”
In addition, Mayor Heroux says the city already has thousands of people registered to receive their first dose after March 1, that they will now have to notify.
“It’s been a complete disaster,” he said.
ABC 6 reached out to the state for comment on this issue but has not yet heard back.
The Department of Public Health will be holding a webinar Friday morning with local health departments and will answer questions on how to ensure the most vulnerable residents get vaccinated.