Selectmen oppose Governor’s vaccine plan

Feb 17, 2021

The Board of Selectmen penned a letter to Governor Baker expressing their disapproval of his move away from supplying vaccines to community healthcare clinics like those run by Southcoast in favor of mass vaccination sites. 

The letter is below:

Dear Governor Baker:

I hope this letter finds you well.  Having been unanimously authorized by the Wareham Board of Selectmen, I write on behalf of the people of the Town of Wareham to ask you to reconsider your Administration's recent decision to stop issuing COVID-19 vaccine through the Southcoast Health System and other operators of community hospitals statewide, and instead to issue vaccines only through state-run sites and, eventually, pharmacies.  In response to your Administration's decision, we have been informed that Southcoast is no longer accepting new appointments, and is awaiting word back from the state that those who have existing appointments will still be provided the vaccine.

The Administration's decision means that currently, senior citizens in Wareham and other local communities must travel approximately 40 miles to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, rather than making a quick trip to our local YMCA where Southcoast had been vaccinating them.  While we understand there are plans to open up a state-run vaccination facility in North Dartmouth, that facility is not slated to open until the end of the month and, in any event, is still more than twenty miles away from Wareham.

We further understand from reports from seniors who have traveled to Foxboro that the facility appears understaffed, and that some seniors have had to wait as long as two hours after receiving the vaccine for a scheduler to meet with them to set up appointments for their second dose.   

Wareham is not a wealthy community and many of our senior citizens face transportation challenges.  To shutter local sites and then effectively expect our most vulnerable and isolated citizens to search Craigslist or social media pages to find people they do not even know to bring them to a vaccination site runs counter to your Administration's responsibility to speedily and efficiently vaccinate them.

We understand that the pandemic has been challenging for your Administration and that there are no easy answers; however, these recent decisions are hasty, confusing and have made it more difficult for our residents to obtain this life-saving resource.  Accordingly, we respectfully request that you reverse these decisions and once again allow our local healthcare system to handle vaccine distribution efficiently and conveniently, as it had been doing before the change.

Very truly yours, 

Peter W. Teitelbaum, Esq.
Wareham Board of Selectmen

cc: Senator Marc Pacheco
      Representative Susan Williams Gifford
      Southcoast Healthcare CEO Keith Hovan
      Town Administrator Derek Sullivan
      Board of Selectmen
      Board of Health