Shelters, congregate care, correctional facilities to plan vaccinations starting Monday

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Congregate-care facilities, shelters, and correctional facilities are the next group in phase one of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan and will start to get their vaccinations on Monday, January 18th.

More than 94,000 people, both residents, and staff over the age of 16 will be eligble to get vaccinated. Distribution isn’t that easy for all facilities though. 22News spoke with Friends of the Homeless shelter in Springfield about their vaccine plan.

“In our particular circumstances where people are living in a transitional environment in a homeless shelter, it’s how do you get the first vaccine and then the second vaccine and so it takes some organization,” Vice President of Housing and Homeless Services with Clinical & Support Operations, Bill Miller told 22News.

Miller said they’re working with a pharmacy to plan how to distribute the vaccine and where.

The state has prioritized these facilities because they serve vulnerable populations in densely populated settings, giving them a more significant risk for getting COVID-19.

“The staff are also high risk for exposure at these facilities, and many of them do amazing work and it’s important that they’re vaccinated to protect themselves and their families,” Governor Baker said on Wednesday.

Congregate care settings are where people live and work in close proximity to each other and residents sometimes have complex medical needs. 22News spoke with Franklin County Sheriff, Chris Donelan about the importance of getting the vaccine to his facility.

“The Department of Public Health came to that conclusion because of the congregate living environment here. You have many men in a small space. If a COVID outbreak happened here it would spread very quickly to very many people,” Sheriff Donelan said.

According to the state, sheriff’s department inmates and staff will get their vaccines from medical staff inside the facility.

Included in the next group are also private special education schools with residential services that have been approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The state breaks down the options for vaccinations this way:

Option #1: Program “Self-Administration”

  • Organizations that have the capability to directly receive and administer COVID-19 vaccines can request vaccines from the Department of Public Health if they meet certain requirements. 
  • Self-administering organizations must plan to vaccinate 200 individuals. However, the scale can be achieved by partnering with other organizations. For more information, visit the Congregate Care Vaccine page.

Option #2: Leverage Existing Pharmacy Partnerships or other Medical Provider Relationships

  • Programs with existing pharmacy partnerships can leverage these partnerships to administer COVID-19 vaccines. This includes programs that work with pharmacies to administer the regular flu vaccine clinics, and/or other existing relationships with local hospitals, health care practices, community health centers, university health centers, or VNAs. 

Option #3: Mass Vaccination Sites

  • Mass vaccination sites can also be utilized by congregate care settings. On Tuesday, the Commonwealth announced the opening of the first mass vaccination site at Gillette Stadium that will launch on Monday.

In all, about 3,500 sites will start vaccinations on Monday for this group, as well as corrections facilities.

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