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Pittsfield First-Responders Receive Moderna Vaccine

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield public safety employees began receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last week as first-responders were in the third priority group of Phase 1 of the state's vaccination rollout.
"I feel confident in the vaccine," Police Chief Michael Wynn said, hoping that this is the first step to returning to some kind of normalcy.
The commonwealth provided first-responders with Moderna, Wynn explained, because the logistics of the vaccine make it easier to travel with and administer in non-clinical locations.
Moderna, unlike the Pfizer vaccine, does not have to be kept at ultra-cold temperatures. Both require two doses for full coverage.
The Police Department was qualified to request vaccinations to be administered on-site because it planned to vaccinate at least 200 individuals. In North Berkshire, the local regional emergency planning committee oversaw inoculations for first-responders in multiple communities.
Wynn said 70 percent of police personnel expressed interest in vaccination and another 5 to 10 percent were on the fence and decided to wait and see how their colleagues responded to it.
Because of the way that the commonwealth set up registration, every employee who wished to receive the vaccine had to register individually.
When Wynn received his vaccine, he said there were about a dozen other first-responders at the clinic in his time slot.
First-responders want to be able to serve and protect the community to their best ability, but they also want to protect families and loved ones from the virus. The fact that vaccination has not been proven to stop the transmitting of COVID-19 is still worrisome to Wynn.
"Obviously, getting the vaccine, getting both doses is going to protect our people and prevent them from getting sick, which is, of course, a positive," Wynn said. "But we don't have enough data about whether receiving the vaccine is going to prevent us from transmitting the virus."
Because first-responders are out in the community and don't have the option of working from home, even vaccinated officers could be carriers and the department will remain to be cautious of that, he said.
Police Department staff was educated on the development and the use of the Moderna vaccine by a video sent out by the state's municipal training committee.
The force has been heavily impacted by COVID-19. In mid-march, during the week that the emergency was declared, it was hit with six positive cases simultaneously, three of them being senior members of the command staff.
During that week, the department issued an emergency staffing plan to combat the spread of the virus that lasted for 42 days. Since the emergency plan ended, the department saw another 15 to 18 positive cases at a time but was able to manage them by isolation and they did not cause an outbreak.
Reflecting on the outbreak experienced at the start of the pandemic, Wynn said anything they can do to keep the workforce healthy is great.
Fire Chief Thomas Sammons reported that a majority of his personnel were also vaccinated last week. There were some scheduling issues that caused a delay, he said, but the remaining staff who wished to be vaccinated will do so on Tuesday.
"No one had any issues other than pain at the injection site," Sammons said. "So I am very pleased with how it is going so far."

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Homelessness Advisory Panel Reprimanded For Internal Disrespect

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Chairwoman Kim Borden warns advisory committee members to be on their best behavior after 'inappropriate' communications.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Homelessness Advisory Committee reportedly experienced recent issues with "highly inappropriate behavior and communication, threats and the spreading of misinformation" and Chairwoman Kim Borden is not having it.

At the third meeting as a newly established committee on Wednesday, Borden shared her thoughts on the current climate of the committee.

"In the last month, I've been subjected to highly inappropriate behavior and communication, which has include bullying threats and the spreading of misinformation," Borden said. "At this time, I will not identify the specific depict individuals as I do not believe in public shaming. This is not what I signed up for and more importantly, I do not believe that other committee members should be subjected to this extraordinarily destructive dynamic."

This type of communication or behavior may result in a request that appropriate steps be taken to remove the person or persons creating a hostile and/or unproductive environment, she said.

At this time, no committee members are being removed. If any are removed, they will be replaced with individuals with an "appropriate level of civility and a desire to work together as a team and respect others."

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