The Windemere long-term care and nursing facility has received its first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital officials announced on Wednesday, as a slow-moving vaccination process picks up speed on the Island.
All 40 residents and 26 staff were vaccinated Tuesday afternoon.
Along with Windemere, the hospital is scheduled to vaccinate 250 public safety officials beginning Friday, and has already started administering second doses of the vaccine to approximately 100 hospital staff.
Windemere, the Island’s only nursing home, is operated by the hospital and had seen federal delays in receiving vaccines for its residents and staff after they were initially expected in late December. But hospital officials said that the vaccines arrived on time Tuesday, and that all residents and staff were vaccinated.
The facility has had five employees test positive for the virus in the past two months, including three administrative staff and two traveling certified nursing assistants. No residents have tested positive for the virus.
Vaccines will be available to the general public between April and June, according to the state’s plan.
Under a federal program for long-term care facilities, CVS Pharmacy administered the vaccines to the entire Windemere campus. The second dose of vaccines is set to arrive on Feb. 2, hospital president and CEO Denise Schepici said during a press briefing Wednesday.
“I want to thank the team that was in there for the exceptional care they continue to provide our residents,” Ms. Schepici said.
Meanwhile, hospital officials said during the briefing that the Island vaccination program had picked up steam in the past week, with 308 staff members in total receiving their first dose. Front line health care workers, residents at long-term care facilities, other hospital employees and Island first responders are the first priority groups to receive the vaccine in the state’s phased rollout.
“Our program has been running very smoothly,” hospital head of operations and chief nurse Claire Seguin said Wednesday. “So smoothly, in fact, that we have moved on to the next phase of vaccinating all staff who work at the hospital.”
After coordinating with Island police, fire and EMS chiefs, hospital officials requested 275 doses of vaccine to be administered to the Island’s front line public safety personnel. The hospital said Wednesday that those vaccines had arrived on the Island and a clinic would be held on Friday. First responders will receive the Moderna vaccine, which hospital officials said was easier to store than the Pfizer vaccine.
Vaccinations are not mandatory for public safety departments and first responders. Although officials did not know how many total public safety personnel work on the Island, they said that 250 Vineyard public safety personnel from all six towns had registered to receive a vaccine — likely more than 75 per cent, but not 100 per cent vaccination.
“We’re actually really pleased with the number who have signed up,” Ms. Schepici said. “We have more people wanting to get vaccinated, than we actually have vaccines.”
Next in line to receive the vaccine after first responders are those living and working in congregate care facilities, such as prisons or shelters, and home-based health care workers. Phase two of the vaccination process, which will begin in February according to the state, starts with individuals 75 and older and people who have two or more serious health conditions.
Hospital officials said the timeline for a broader vaccine rollout remained nebulous, although planning is underway for vaccine administration when it becomes available to the general public. Ms. Schepici and Ms. Seguin said the hospital will be playing a primary role in the Islandwide vaccination effort, using their experience from the testing process and guidance from the Mass General-Brigham system.
“The planning is underway for how we’ll vaccinate our Island community, and MVH will be taking a leadership role to advance the process,” Ms. Schepici said. “We will have more information to share in the days and weeks ahead.”