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Residents get a dose of relief at South Deerfield COVID-19 vaccine clinic

  • Carolyn Shores Ness of the Deerfield Board of Health consults with Deerfield Police Sgt. Brian Ravish on Thursday at the COVID-19 vaccination site at Tree House Brewing, formerly the Channing Bete Co. building, in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Lisa White, regional public health nurse for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, with vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Thursday’s vaccination clinic at Tree House Brewing in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The COVID-19 vaccination site at Tree House Brewing, formerly the Channing Bete Co. building, in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 2/25/2021 6:22:59 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — For those exiting the warehouse of Tree House Brewery on Thursday, there was a sense of relief.

“I feel like I don’t have to be as fearful — careful, yes, but not as fearful,” said Megha Singh, who had just received her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It feels great.”

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) hosted the first of two back-to-back vaccine clinics on Thursday at Tree House Brewing (formerly the Channing Bete Co. building).

And with the exception of issues with the state computer system, the clinic was running smoothly, Board of Health Chair Carolyn Shores Ness said Thursday afternoon.

“We’re just very happy to get started,” she said. “It’s a relief to finally have the vaccine.”

All 500 available appointments had been booked for Thursday and Friday, she said. When Gov. Charlie Baker announced last week that residents ages 65 and older were eligible, “they filled up immediately.”

After individuals received their shot, they got a sticker with the time they could leave and were monitored to be sure they had no adverse reactions. In the meantime, they were registered for an appointment for their second dose.

“If you already have an appointment for a second dose, you’re more likely to show up,” Shores Ness said.

Both Singh and Max Hartshorne, who also received his first dose of the vaccine Thursday, said the clinic was “well-organized.” Hartshorne was glad to see members of the Selectboard there, serving as volunteers.

“I’m happy I got the vaccine, but there are so many limitations,” Hartshorne said, noting there are still many activities he won’t be able to safely do. “It’s not much of a panacea until we all get it.”

Shores Ness — though pleased with the success of the clinic so far — said she hopes it shows the governor that Franklin County has the capacity to administer more.

“All Selectboards of South County — Deerfield, Conway, Whately and Sunderland — are all sending letters to the governor asking for more vaccines,” she said. “We certainly can do this, and we think it’s not fair he’s not acknowledging that we’ve been practicing for years.”

The clinic on Thursday was the ninth Emergency Dispensing Site, she said.

“We’re just excited it started,” she said. “And we hope (Baker) understands we’re ready to deliver more.”

Vaccination plans

FRCOG is leading a countywide collaborative, and because the state recognizes it as one of 11 across Massachusetts, it will now know how many vaccines Franklin County will receive each week by late Friday afternoon of the week before. That’s when registration for appointments will open.

Recently, both FRCOG’s clinic at Mohawk Trail Regional School in Buckland and the one at the John Zon Community Center in Greenfield had issues with internet bots scooping up local vaccine appointments with people from across the state, so both Greenfield and FRCOG have decided to provide “private” links to registration. People, at least at this point, will no longer sign up for an appointment in Franklin County on the state website (VaxFinder).

FRCOG Director of Community Services Phoebe Walker said the state receives two orders for the vaccine for Franklin County each week: Greenfield and FRCOG. Greenfield offers vaccinations every week, while other members, including clinics in Buckland, Bernardston, South Deerfield, Orange and Montague, rotate weeks.

“We have a ‘hub and spoke’ model,” Walker said. “Greenfield, the hub, offers vaccines several days a week each week, while the smaller towns, the spokes, take turns holding a clinic each week.”

Walker said Greenfield and FRCOG are constantly updating information about the COVID-19 vaccine and clinics. She said town officials and websites are letting residents know about clinics, robocalls are being made to residents, and senior centers and councils on aging are being contacted by towns.

To sign up for a vaccine through FRCOG, people should visit frcog.org/covid-vaccine. To sign up for a vaccine at the John Zon Community Center on Pleasant Street in Greenfield, visit maimmunizations.org, email vaccine.clinics@greenfield-ma.gov, or call and leave a message at 413-775-6411.

Due to limited availability of vaccines and the unprecedented volume of requests for appointments, response to email and phone messages may be delayed.


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