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Large Vaccination Site to Open at Cape Cod Community College

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Stephen Colella
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Traffic approaching a vaccination clinic at the Cape Cod Melody Tent earlier in February.

A large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site could open as early as next week in the gymnasium at Cape Cod Community College.

Cape healthcare providers, town health agents, and Barnstable County have formed the Cape Cod Regional Vaccine Consortium to qualify for more doses under new state rules.

Mike Lauf, CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare, said he has requested up to 3,000 doses a week for the college site.

“And that will go a long way in getting to where we all want to be, which is a large number of Cape Codders vaccinated, so that we can evolve from this treacherous disease and crisis,” he said.

In mid-February, not long after the Baker administration announced it would open mass vaccination sites in Dartmouth and Natick, the state informed local health departments that it would no longer supply them with doses for municipal clinics.

But local authorities were given the option of forming regional collaboratives if they could meet unmet geographic need and operate at least five days a week, among other parameters.

Cape Cod Healthcare will lead the Cape Cod Community College site in cooperation with Barnstable County and others.

Lauf said he couldn’t thank local leaders enough, “for your willingness to come together, to think outside of the box, and to really be transparent with what we want to do.”

The local legislative delegation and members of town boards were among 92 people who signed a letter to the Baker administration earlier this month, calling for a mass vaccination site on Cape Cod, but that never materialized.

But the group did get state approval to form a collaborative. What remains unclear is exactly how many vaccines they will receive.

Lauf said the college could handle as many as 1,000 people a day.

This week, Cape Cod Healthcare has been running clinics at the Cape Cod Melody Tent, after the state started supplying the health system with more vaccine than it had in the past.

Lauf said he had 2,000 doses for clinics this week at the Melody Tent, and Cape Cod Healthcare is filling those appointments by calling the Cape’s most vulnerable residents.

He said he objects to the characterization of those clinics as “closed” clinics, because Cape Cod Healthcare is making appointments for people most at risk for COVID-19, including patients of other healthcare systems.

When Cape Cod Community College is added to the state website, clinics there will be open to any qualified person statewide.

Critics, including state Senator Julian Cyr, have said the state signup system favors the fittest over people most at risk for COVID-19.

“This is what legislators and our constituents are so furious about,” he said. “If you've got the time and the savvy and the wheels and the Internet connection, and the wherewithal to be stalking a website at 4 a.m., you might be able to get a shot. Well, that’s leaving out the most vulnerable people.”

Local leaders hope the new clinic at the college will prompt the state to send more doses to Cape Cod and alleviate some of the backlog.