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92 Cape Officials to Baker: We Need a Mass Vaccination Site

Ninety-two Cape Cod officials — legislators, members of town boards, and others — have signed a letter imploring Gov. Charlie Baker to open a mass vaccination site at Cape Cod Community College.


The letter also calls for Barnstable County to receive more doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and for doses to go to local boards of health working to reach homebound elders.


Shareen Davis, chair of the Chatham Select Board, was among the signers.


“I think what our governor might not realize is that we're doing so well with the number of vaccines we have been given, due to the fact that we have a really good infrastructure in place,” she said.


But even with that infrastructure, people 75 and older are still scrambling to find appointments because the region doesn’t have enough doses, she said.

In a press conference Wednesday, Baker said Cape Cod has administered a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to 14.2 percent of the population, higher than any county except Berkshire.


“They're performing well, and we'll continue to work with them to expand capacity and to make sure they have access,” he said.


So far, public vaccination on Cape Cod has been run by what Baker calls a “collaborative” — county government working with local boards of health, community health centers and others.


The governor announced Wednesday that people age 65 and older, or who have at least two of certain medical conditions, will be eligible for the vaccine starting Thursday.


Davis called the decision premature.


“We haven't finished, or finalized, vaccine for the 75-and-older age group,” she said. “People are still scrambling to get those vaccines. People are trying to navigate a system that's flawed and difficult.”


She recently served as a volunteer at a vaccination clinic in Orleans, checking people in. One person she checked in was 99 years old, she said.


State Rep. Steven Xiarhos, of Barnstable, signed the letter to Baker as well. He said that without a mass vaccination site, Cape Cod clinics run out of doses quickly, so it’s no wonder people for asking for a state-supported site.


“There’s so many good people on the Cape, and there's so many people that are asking,” he said. “And, you know, we have an elderly population, and they're concerned about traveling.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Sumner, interim town manager in Provincetown and another signatory to the letter to Baker, told CAI that a walk-through of a proposed vaccination site on the Truro-Provincetown line scheduled for Thursday was canceled because local authorities don’t have enough vaccine.


He said the towns had been working with Barnstable County on the clinic because they thought that by now, more doses would be coming.


“We canceled it because of the recent governor's indication on the vaccine allocation for the Cape,” he said. “So, you know, I think there's certainly been a lot of confusion, and not the greatest coordination.


The proposed clinic would have been at the parking area for the Pilgrim Spring Trail.


Sumner said the governor’s assessment that Cape Cod is doing well with its vaccination rate doesn’t seem to reflect the reality on the ground.


Barnstable has the oldest population of any county in Massachusetts.


The nearest mass vaccination site, in Dartmouth, set to open Feb. 24, is about 96 miles from Provincetown.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.