COVID-19 Update: Vaccinations, Assistance Info, Health Tips, & More

This is a message from the Somerville, MA Community Alert System.

Dear Community Members,

Here is the COVID-19 update for Wednesday, January 27. Please also check somervillema.gov/covid19 for information and resources that are updated frequently.

Vaccine Updates

PLEASE NOTE THAT VACCINE INFORMATION IS CHANGING QUICKLY. THE INFORMATION BELOW IS THE LATEST NEWS AS OF WEDNESDAY EVENING, JANUARY 27.

  • How to get the latest vaccine information: Vaccination information is changing quickly. We’re going to keep sending out these weekly emails, which will include vaccine information, but if you want the latest news, here are two sites to check frequently: The State’s COVID vaccine website is updated often with statewide information. Visit somervillema.gov/covidvaccine for general vaccine updates, info sessions, FAQs, and more localized updates as they become available. To find out when and where you can get vaccinated, visit mass.gov/covidvaccine. Your primary care physician or health provider may also have guidance for you.
  • State moves up vaccine schedule for home healthcare workers, and non-covid-facing healthcare workers: Since our last update, the state opened up vaccination early for home healthcare workers and non-covid-facing healthcare workers, who are now eligible. To find out when and where you can get vaccinated, visit: mass.gov/covidvaccine. Your primary care physician or health provider may also have guidance for you.
  • State begins vaccine appointments for persons aged 75 and older: Starting today, January 27, the State is allowing seniors aged 75 or older to sign up for vaccination appointments that will begin on (or about) February 1. HOWEVER, we want to warn you that the rollout has revealed challenges and signup may not work right away. This is a monumental task for the State, we expect many challenges to be addressed soon, and we will all continue to get more information and see better processes offered in the coming weeks. The State will certainly appreciate our patience. Challenges to expect include that, for now, signup is only online. You must have an email to sign up. Appointments opened at midnight and filled within minutes. Many vaccine sites are not open yet. It is unclear how quickly more locations and appointments will open up. Please know the City is advocating for improvements to State systems to provide more equitable and easier access for our seniors and those in later vaccination groups, and the State is focused on this. We fully expect that this process will get better.
  • For now, if you are 75+, for information on how to sign up and prepare for your appointment:
    • Via your healthcare provider: Some healthcare providers who are administering the vaccine such as hospitals or primary care doctors are reaching out to their patients proactively. You may also want to contact your healthcare provider to ask for guidance. You may be able to sign up this way rather than using the State signup online.
    • Via the State website: Visit this page on the State website for instructions: mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccinations-for-people-ages-75-and-older. Please do not let documentation requirements get in the way of getting your vaccine. Sites listed on the State’s website may request items such as insurance or forms stating your age, but these are not required. Go to your appointment anyway. The COVID-19 vaccine is free, whether you have health insurance or not. Immigration status is not asked. You can state your age verbally at your appointment.
    • Assistance with State signup: If you need assistance with the appointment process, please first ask a family or trusted friend for help if you can. You may also contact the Council on Aging or Somerville/Cambridge Elder Services. For assistance in other languages, contact 311 to be connected to bilingual support. Then bear with us. Our ability to help will be impacted by factors not in our control, such as vaccine availability. We appreciate your understanding as we too await more vaccination appointments to become available.
      • Council on Aging: (617) 625-6600 ext 2300 or somervillema.gov/coa
      • Somerville/Cambridge Elder Services, Inc., (617)628-2601, Web: eldercare.org
      • 311 Constituent Services: 617-666-3311
    • Via the City: The City has received unpredictable small shipments of vaccine to distribute according to strict State guidelines. The first doses received were limited by the State to certain groups such as police, fire, and ambulance. Currently, Somerville has been promised 100 doses per week, but this could go up or down. At this time, the Health and Human Services (HHS) team is using these doses to help area health providers vaccinate their Phase I eligible staff. We will keep the public informed about future local availability. We are advocating for more vaccines so that we can expand local access especially for those who may face the greatest barriers to vaccine access via the State system.
  • State moves up vaccine schedule for persons aged 65 and older: Earlier this week, the State announced that seniors aged 65 and older will now be moved forward into the second group that will become eligible in Phase II. The date when vaccination will start for Phase II Group B has not yet been announced. This group also includes persons with two or more comorbidities (risk factors for serious COVID-19 illness).

General Covid Updates

  • Somerville COVID-19 Case Counts: As of January 26, a total of 4,133 Somerville residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March, and sadly there have been 58 deaths. See the latest Somerville case data at somervillema.gov/covid19dashboard.
  • Somerville restaurant closing hours remain status quo: Although new state guidelines that went into effect this week allow restaurants to close later, Somerville is taking a more cautious approach and keeping restaurant guidelines status quo for now. Restaurants must stop serving by 9:30 p.m. and be cleared of patrons by 10. We’re expecting another update on local guidelines early next week, so stay tuned for more information.
  • Free COVID-19 testing: CHA Somerville Hospital offers free testing at Assembly Row and currently they are prioritizing persons with symptoms or who are household contacts of persons with COVID-19. To make an appointment, call 617-665-2928 (Mon-Fri, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.). The mobile COVID-19 testing unit offers testing for all in our neighborhoods. To make a mobile appointment, call 617-682-0583. Mobile testing schedules, as they become available, and more testing information can be found at somervillema.gov/covidtesting. The State’s Stop the Spread testing sites are also an option, including in the nearby communities of Chelsea and Everett. For more information, visit the State’s website.

Public Health Tip: How to Safely Quarantine or Isolate

Although the terms quarantine and isolation get used interchangeably, public health officials use each term to describe something different. If you test positive for COVID-19, you need to isolate. That means staying away from other people, including those in your home. Quarantine is for people who have been a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, but is not as restrictive as isolation. People in quarantine should not leave their home, avoid others in their home as much as possible, and monitor their temperature and other COVID symptoms. The CDC offers guidance on how quarantine can be shortened with COVID testing. They also offer tips on how to protect others in your home when you are isolating.

Assistance Tip: Contactless Pickup Still Available at Somerville’s Libraries

While the library buildings remained closed, patrons can still check out books and other media and get materials printed with contactless pickup at all three branches. Find out how to reserve materials and when you can pick them up on the library’s website.

Other City News, Events, & Job Openings

 


Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication (i.e., CART, ASL), written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings should contact Nency Salamoun in advance at 617-625-6600 x2323 or [email protected].