Northampton to open pediatric vaccine clinic

  • Northampton City Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 11/7/2021 10:43:22 AM

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton Health Department plans to open vaccination clinics around the city for children ages 5 to 11 starting this Sunday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday set out a recommendation for children in this age group to start receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine against COVID-19 as soon as possible. According to the CDC, this recommendation expands vaccine eligibility to roughly 28 million children in the United States.

Merridith O’Leary, Northampton’s public health director, said in a statement, “Vaccinating this large group in our communities is an exciting step toward the other side of this pandemic. It is important that we get our children vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Doses of the pediatric vaccines will be administered on Sunday at The Elks Lodge, 17 Spring St. in Florence, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additionally, for the next six weeks, vaccines will be available for children 5 to 11 during after school hours at the Elks Lodge as well as other community-centered locations and public schools across Northampton.

With help from Northampton Public Schools, the Hilltown Community Health Centers, and employees from Northampton Area Pediatrics and Cooley Dickinson Hospital, the city hopes to bring the vaccine to children regardless of obstacles such as transportation needs or previous health care status.

“(The vaccine) has been deemed safe and effective by the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and our local pediatricians and infectious disease experts,” O’Leary said.

The Northampton Health Department will also work with the Hampshire County Medical Reserve Corps and Hampshire Public Health Preparedness Coalition to prepare “mobile clinics” that will make the pediatric vaccine more accessible across all neighborhoods in the city.

Additionally, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments and local nurse leaders are teaming up with the state Department of Public Health to bring a traveling “Vax Bus” directly to schools in the area. These pop-up vaccination sites are intended for children ages 5 to 11 but will also administer adult vaccinations and booster shots for all that are eligible.

Some Vax Bus destinations include Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg on Nov. 16, Deerfield Elementary School on Nov. 17, William E. Norris School in Southampton on Nov. 18, Sunderland Elementary School on Nov. 19, and Leverett Elementary School on Dec. 3.

Registrations for vaccination can be made at franklincountymavaccine.org for Vax Bus appointments and at northamptonma.gov/2219/Vaccine-Clinics for the various clinics to be offered around Northampton in the coming weeks.

Kate Kelly, Northampton’s public health nurse, said, “I had tears in my eyes when I opened the pediatric vaccine shipment this week,”

“Our staff and volunteers are ready and waiting to make Sunday and these next few weeks a success,” she said. “We are planning a fun, festive, opening day on Sunday.”


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