State Vax Bus stops by Dartmouth Mall
In an effort to broaden vaccine access and boost the area’s inoculation rates, the state’s Department of Health parked its “Vax Bus” mobile clinic outside the Dartmouth Mall Aug. 6 to offer jabs to those still lacking a shot as cases continue to rise in town.
Clinics are being held in more than 20 municipalities across the state as part of the “VaxBus Tour” — an initiative from the Baker-Polito administration to deliver shots to communities with lower vaccination rates.
The first clinic was held on July 16, offering Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson shots.
According to state data, Dartmouth’s vaccination rate remains stagnant, with 54% of residents receiving at least a first dose. That amounts to 20,218 people — up 184 from the previous week.
Only 49% are fully vaccinated against the virus — only a one percent increase since last month.
In contrast, nearby communities such as Fairhaven and Westport have first dose rates of 63% and 64% respectively.
Megan Axtell, a Vax Bus EMT, said the crowd sizes have varied since the buses first began last month. She noted that in the beginning, “things were really busy.” She noted that she would deliver more than 100 doses per site. Now, the highest number of doses she has administered is 40.
Axtell says the drop at the Vax Bus is likely because the majority of those who want to get a shot have already gotten them as early as they could.
“Now it’s kind of the people who were more on the fence,” she said. “Usually those getting it for work or to travel soon.”
Most of those getting their shots at the mobile clinics, fellow EMT Chris Vieira said, are those over the age of 30. He added that it is “crucial” that young people get their shots as soon as possible.
“People around my age, we don’t see too many,” he said. “We see maybe one or two a day.”
Bristol resident Marissa Stanzione, 20, was among the few young people who came to the mall to get her first dose.
She said she was in the area visiting her boyfriend’s family when she spotted the bus in the parking lot. Stanzione noted that she meant to get her shot “a while ago,” but had too many conflicts in her schedule at the time.
“It’s super convenient,” she said. “I saw this and figured, ‘why not stop by?’”
The state’s push for increased vaccinations comes as Covid cases are once again surging.
As of Aug. 5, Dartmouth reported 57 new cases in the past two weeks — up from the 35 in the previous report.
According to state data, the town has a 14-day incidence rate of 11 per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of 3.85%. Despite the increase, Dartmouth is still classified as “gray” in the state’s Covid-19 risk reporting — the lowest risk level.
Axtell noted that the state is still determining whether or not to continue another round of traveling clinics in the next three weeks.
For those who got a first Pfizer dose at the mobile clinic, Vieira said if it does not roll back to Dartmouth, those patients can get their second shot CVS at 548 Dartmouth St. and Stop & Shop at 25 Faunce Corner Road.
Appointments and walk-ins also remain available at the former Circuit City Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. To schedule an appointment, visit vaxfinder.mass.gov.