Health Agent Marty Golightly has been making a list and checking it twice. He’s going to find out when people can get that “sweet science juice.” Vaccination clinics are coming to town.
Phase 2, Priority 1 of the state’s vaccine roll-out kicks off Monday. Everyone over the age of 75 falls within Priority 1.
The state last week introduced an online system to help seniors start scheduling their vaccine appointments at one of more than 100 locations across the state, but it was immediately met with bad reviews. Like “Cats: The Movie”-level bad reviews. Not enough appointments. Too many steps. Too few locations.
RealizIng the flaw in setting up an online system when 1) not all seniors are web-literate, 2) not all seniors have access to the web, and 3) there are still swaths of the state that lack access to high-speed internet service, Gov. Baker quickly announced he’d be setting up a call center to help.
Abington seniors can try their luck with the state scheduling system or they can call the Health Department at 781-982-2119 to get placed on the wait list for an upcoming town clinic. It’s hard to say which pathway will be fastest. The state has set up large clinics at places like Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park, and contracted with corporate chains, such as Hanaford’s and CVS. But towns like Abington are also ready to scale up vaccination operations — they just have no idea when they’re getting doses or how many.
Golightly said the town is capable of vaccinating 1,000 people a day, but it can’t schedule anything until it physically receives more doses from the state. [Other communities have said the same thing.] Abington’s next clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 3, at the Senior Center, but the wait list for that event is already full. And there’s currently no word on when the next one will be.
Per the Health Board: please don’t show up Wednesday unless you’ve been pre-registered for the clinic. There are no walk-in appointments. If someone drops out, health officials will call down the list.
“We recognize this process is difficult and frustrating,” the Health Department wrote on its Facebook page. “We will do our best to get everyone who wants the vaccine inoculated as fast as possible. Please be patient with us as we progress through the [state’s] timelines and vaccine [availability].”
BOARD OF HEALTH
The Board of Health in its entirety will meet Monday at 6 p.m. via Zoom to get an update on the pandemic and the clinics. The town’s number of active cases has started to drop significantly, falling from 130+ last weekend to 88 this past weekend. Health officials nationally and statewide are hoping the light we are seeing is the end of the tunnel and not the headlights of a truck with “more contagious strain of COVID-19” written on it.
The Boston/Abington/NYC/Philly/DC megalopolis is hunkering down for a big snowstorm today. Forecasted snow totals keep inching up, with latest suggesting Abigton could receive 10+ inches, on top of some stiff winds. Bottom line: stay off the roads this evening, park off the street, keep some flashlights and candles handy, don’t shovel into the street, and dig out any nearby fire hydrants.
Those interested in running for municipal office can still contact the Town Clerk’s Office about picking up nomination papers (Town Hall is currently closed to the public but departments remain open and working). Town Clerk Leanne Adams can be reached by phone at (781) 982-2112, or via email at LMAdams@abingtonma.gov
The town’s Finance Committee is officially elbow-deep in its annual municipal budget review process, and will meet Wednesday to discuss next’s year proposed spending plans for the Office of the Treasurer/Collector, Council on Aging, and DPW. This past week they discussed budgets for the Assessor’s Office, Planning Board, and Police Department.
There’s still many weeks to go before Town Meeting – and goodness knows lots can change – but early signs seem to show a challenging, but not devastating, budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Town Manager Scott Lambise told the Finance Committee last week he instructed departments to prepare a level funded budget, aside from any contractual obligations. Local receipts (meals tax, excises taxes) may start to rebound this summer, he said. And the first draft of Gov Baker’s budget actually included small increases in state aid. The town avoided tapping into its growing reserve funds this year – something not every community can say – and may be able to do the same next year.
This doesn’t mean that property taxes will decrease next year, nor will every street get repaved, nor will classroom size drop – but as of now Abington may get through this pandemic and the resulting economic hardships without having to make deep cuts as it has in the past. (This last part was typed with fingers crossed, rubbing multiple rabbits’ feet, tossing salt over a shoulder, while wearing David Ortiz’s batting gloves.)
Board of Health, 6 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes updated on the COVID-19 pandemic and the town’s vaccination clinics.
Planning Board, 6 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes discussions about 12 John L. Sullivan Way, 351 Summer St., Buckley Place, Robbins Avenue, complaints about 121 Randolph St., and an update to the town’s federal flood plain map.
Capital Planning Committee, 6 p.m., via Zoom. The agenda includes appointing a chairman and vice-chairman, and discussions about a 5-year capital plan for the town.
Board of Assessors, 11 a.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes a discussion on excise taxes.
Finance Committee, 7 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes reviewing budgets for the Treasurer/Collectors office, Council on Aging, and DPW.