Town-run vaccine clinic winds down with penultimate operation

Feb 28, 2021

Good humor and masked smiles filled the Dartmouth High School gym as more than 1,000 people received second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at the second to last town-run clinic on Feb. 27.

The atmosphere was congenial as patients trickled in throughout the morning, with no lines to impede their progress.

The town’s clinic — run by the Board of Health in conjunction with the EMA and many other town departments, including some from the town of Westport — stopped receiving first doses of the vaccine from the state on Feb. 17.

Prior to the move, the state had announced its own mass vaccination site was being set up at Dartmouth’s former Circuit City, which started operating on Feb. 24.

Dartmouth Public Health Director Chris Michaud previously pointed out that the decision to pull doses, along with a hiatus in vaccine distribution to clinics run by Southcoast Health, left a weeklong gap in vaccinations for South Coast residents.

And according to state data, Bristol County is now last in the state for both doses sent and doses administered.

“I’m outraged that they denied us vaccine,” said Michaud. “We could have administered 1,000 doses here on or around February 20th...There’s no reason why, even with constrained supply, you cannot send one shipment of Pfizer to this location to augment Circuit City.”

“We had the capacity to make it better,” he added. “That’s a tragedy. The state knew that we were behind, and still withheld vaccine.”

As he spoke, someone came up to ask him a question, before realizing she and Michaud knew each other through a neighbor.

“You guys are doing an amazing job,” she said, noting that she works with the person giving her mom the shot. “It’s kind of fun!”

“That’s the beauty of this, is that you know people,” Michaud said. “There’s a lot of comfort being able to recognize people here, whether it’s from your COA, your Fire Department, your youth on Dartmouth Street, wherever.”

For many there, the second to last clinic was bittersweet.

“At least when it’s held at the local level, we can assist people,” said Council on Aging Director Amy DiPietro. “But once they shut these down, we have no secret magic wand.”

Westport resident Dallen Stanford brought his grandmother-in-law Clementina Costa, 92, who moved to America from Rome in 1940.

“He lives next to my house, and they closed the senior center — he drives me all over the place,” she explained.

“I feel happy that I finally got here,” she said. “Because now they’re closing different places...Now I feel very calm and very happy.”

“I think it was very smooth, very organized,” said Stanford. “And also they’re very respectful. So overall, very impressed.”

“I think he feels relieved that he got the dose, and now he will be safe,” said Dartmouth resident Edwin Will, who brought his father Brian for his second dose. 

As for the experience, he noted, “It was super easy.”

“It was wonderful,” agreed 90-year-old Phyllis Corcoran of Westport. “Last time it was wonderful, and today it was just as wonderful.”

Corcoran said that although there was a short line at the first clinic, at this one she didn’t have to wait in line at all.

“Everyone was very very nice here, very nice,” she added. “What a great spot!”

The town’s last clinic will be on March 6.