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With drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic open at GCC, Greenfield to close its site May 15

  • Volunteer Amy Podlenski and Franklin/Berkshire Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator Carmela Lanza-Weil at the drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • People are vaccinated in their vehicles and then directed to a waiting area at the drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, which opened April 22. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • People are vaccinated in their vehicles at the drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, which opened Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 4/25/2021 4:15:05 PM

GREENFIELD — The COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the John Zon Community Center will continue vaccinating people until May 15, when it closes indefinitely and people are directed to Greenfield Community College, where the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) is now running a drive-thru clinic.

Greenfield Interim Health Director Jennifer Hoffman said it’s possible the Greenfield clinic could reopen in the future, if needed, but beginning in mid-May, the city will help FRCOG with the logistics of its drive-thru clinic, which held its first two sessions on April 22 and 23.

Hoffman and Mayor Roxann Wedegartner said since the clinic opened at the community center in late January, 12,500 people have been vaccinated and most are county residents. There are times, they said, that Greenfield vaccinated 600 people in one day.

“The majority of vaccines given in Franklin County have been done in the Greenfield clinic,” Wedegartner said. “We’ll start to transition to make this smooth, and we’ll be working with FRCOG as a partner, providing some assistance to the agency. We won’t be running the drive-thru clinic or providing all the resources, but we will be providing some of the logistics.”

Wedegartner said she’d like to see seniors get back into their center, especially since most of them have been vaccinated. She said it is possible that in-person municipal meetings could begin being held at the center by June.

“That will happen based on numbers and the city following state COVID-19 protocols,” she noted.

Hoffman said FRCOG will distribute the vaccine at GCC, but the city will provide ambulances, tents and volunteers, if those who have volunteered at the municipally run clinic decide to go there.

“We’ll be getting back to our business, like inspecting restaurants and homes,” Hoffman said. “We’ll be working on updating COVID safety plans for sports, camps and more, as well as continuing contact tracing and working on mosquito plans and other issues not related to the pandemic but necessary.

“We’re very happy to keep going through May 15 at the center,” she added. “And, of course, to help the FRCOG. By May 15, we’ll be handing off second doses to the FRCOG.”

Hoffman said city officials hope to have vaccinated 16,000 by the time the vaccine clinic on Pleasant Street closes.

“We’re very happy that FRCOG is continuing this,” she said. “Running the clinic has very happily been our priority for many months, but we have to go back to some of the other things we do. We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, though.”

She said not only did the city administer the vaccine but spent “many hours” on the phone, either talking with people about it or helping them register. The city also screened and vetted volunteers.

“It has been a wonderful experience,” Hoffman said.

Greenfield Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Robert Strahan, who first led the charge at the Emergency Operations Center at the John Zon Community Center when it opened at the start of the pandemic and then led the transition to a vaccination site, said not much will change, even after the clinic closes, because Greenfield will provide logistical assistance to FRCOG.

“I feel really good that the city stepped up and provided so many vaccines for Greenfield and Franklin County residents,” Strahan said. “It speaks volumes about the commitment the city has to everyone in the county.”

Strahan said while he’ll still be in his role as emergency management director, he’ll also be able to focus more of his time on major projects, like a temporary and permanent fire station.

Clinic details

The Franklin County Vaccine Collaborative Clinic schedule and instructions on how to register can be found at franklincountymavaccine.org. Check the site each Monday afternoon to see when the upcoming week’s clinics will open for public registration.

FRCOG Emergency Preparedness Program Manager Tracy Rogers previously explained the agency is closing its rotating satellite or “spoke” clinics in favor of the single larger site at GCC. She said the agency decided to move to a larger, more permanent site because it has cost between $600 to $1,000 to move equipment from clinic to clinic, and closing the smaller ones has nothing to do with how they have been running.

“They’ve done a great job,” she said.

Rogers said spoke clinics could return in the future, if the county starts receiving enough vaccines to run the drive-thru and other clinics.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.

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