SOUTHWICK – Seventy percent of Southwick’s first responders have opted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fire Chief Russ Anderson said the town will participate in the Agawam distribution.
“We are joining with Agawam,” he said. “They are hosting the site next week pending arrival of vaccine.”
Southwick Police Chief Kevin A. Bishop said the vaccine is not mandatory at this time and those opting to receive it include police and fire personnel, including dispatchers.
Bishop said he plans to be vaccinated.
“I have my own concerns about getting anything new and the quickness that it all came about but at this time I am still getting the vaccine,” Bishop said.
Bishop said dispatchers were not in the original vaccination plan, but he is happy they are now considered first responders for the vaccine roll-out.
“I am thankful to the Department of Public Health for taking input from fire and police chiefs and including dispatchers in the round with first responders,” he said.
Gov. Charlie D. Baker on Monday announced plans for first responder vaccinations starting next week. According to State House News Service, the more than 45,000 police officers, firefighters and EMTs in Massachusetts will begin to gain access to vaccinations on Jan. 11, which Baker said will “protect them from COVID and the terrible illness that can come with it.”
State House News’ Chris Lisinski reports that the Baker administration officials will make the vaccine available to first responders on three different fronts: some larger qualifying departments will be able to request vaccines to administer on-site, and individual first responders can schedule an appointment to get vaccinated at one of dozens of sites.
Over the next several weeks, the state will also set up what Baker called “mass vaccination sites” for first responders. Details are still being finalized, but Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said she expects “to have a few sites operational as soon as possible.” Those locations will have capacity to administer up to 2,000 vaccinations per day, Sudders said.
Agawam is serving as one of those sites.
So far, about 287,000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed to providers in Massachusetts, and about 116,000 have been administered, according to Baker.