PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With an increase in supply of COVID-19 vaccine, the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative has announced that this week it will begin offering walk-in vaccinations at its three large vaccine clinic sites across the county.
"According to the most recent data from the state, more than 50 percent of our residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and almost 40 percent are fully vaccinated," said Darlene Rodowicz, executive vice president of Berkshire Health Systems. "We are excited to see this increase in vaccine supply, and we are optimistic that anyone and everyone who wants a vaccine will able to get one."
According to a press release, the flow of vaccine has recently improved, and the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative expects to have a plentiful supply going forward.
"To increase accessibility and reduce barriers created by the State's online registration system, the collaborative will now offer walk-in appointments at each of the three clinic locations on specific days," said Laura Kittross, manager, Berkshire County Boards of Health Association. "We know that folks have been frustrated, but we encourage everyone to try again."
Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday said about 180,000 people have signed up for vaccination slots this week and more are available.
"This is obviously a welcome change from a few months ago, when demand was exceedingly high and supply was not," he said during his COVID-19 update from Boston. "We hope to make this process more convenient, more accessible, and continue to add to the count of those who are already fully vaccinated here in Massachusetts. We will begin this shift, in part, by providing 22 regional collaboratives with more doses to run their programs, doubling the state vaccine allocation for our 20 most disproportionately impacted communities, and expanding our mobile vaccination clinics."
The state is on track to have 4 million people fully vaccinated by the beginning of June and the governor said four of the seven mass vaccination sites will be phased out by the end of that month.
Focus will now be on reaching communities and individuals who are still at risk or who have difficulty accessing the regional and mass vaccination sites, lining up appointments, or who are still leery about the sites or the vaccine. More than 21,000 doses have been administered through mobile clinics, which will be expanded to reach people at home or through local community centers such as senior centers, houses of worship and YMCAs.
"We can't stress this particular point enough, everyone over the age of 17 can sign up right now on the website to get an appointment at a location that's near them," Baker said. "There's no more waiting or hassle. You don't have to get up in the middle of the night to schedule an appointment, and you can protect yourself, your family, and get back to normal by getting vaccinated. Soon, today, tomorrow, this week."
Walk-in vaccination clinics will be held on:
Great Barrington, WEB DuBois School: Wednesday, May 5, from 4 to 7; 300 Pfizer walk-in appointments
North Adams, St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish Center: Thursday, May 6, from noon to 5; 300 Pfizer walk-in appointments
Pittsfield, Berkshire Community College Field House: Thursday, May 6, from 4 to 7; 300 Pfizer walk-in appointments
"Please remember that the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative clinics are not mass vaccination sites. The state's pre-registration system will not offer you an appointment at any of our local clinics. To get your shot here in the county, please register through www.GetVaccinatedBerkshires.org
or stop by on the day of a walk-in clinic," Rodowicz said.
At this time the available vaccines are Pfizer and Moderna, both of which require two injections; for Pfizer it is 21 days after the first, and for Moderna, 28 days after the first. Second dose appointments will be made at the time of the first dose administration. Massachusetts has a 99 percent rate for people getting their second dose.
"I think we feel good about where we are at this moment the fact that 70 percent of people over the age of 18 have gotten one dose and we're well on track to the 4.1 million people by the end of this month, early June," said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders on Monday. "I think this next iteration and the reason we keep evolving the vaccine program is in response to how do we continue to reach the 30 percent of the folks who have not gotten vaccinated."
The Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative is made up of Berkshire Health Systems, the Berkshire County Boards of Health Association, Community Health Programs, the City of Pittsfield, Northern Berkshire EMS, and public health nurses in the region.
The collaborative is partnering with local organizations to improve support for transportation to clinics and to help with registration. As new programs become available, the collaborative will make announcements on its website. For more information, visit www.getvaccinatedberkshires.org