DENNIS, Mass. — Local officials continue to push for more vaccines to be made available on Cape Cod amid an ongoing shortage of doses. Barnstable County, the oldest county in Massachusetts and the third oldest county in the United States, currently only has 975 vaccines made available per week by the commonwealth.
“Trying to get one for my wife has been murder,” explained 84-year-old Alan Tuttle, a Dennis resident. “I don’t know [how] many times I’ve gone online…midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 in the morning with no luck whatsoever.”
Tuttle said he was finally able to get her an appointment for Monday, but many of his friends are still waiting for more local openings to become available.
“I feel so sorry. I’ve talked to so many people who are beside themselves, and some of them don’t know how to operate a computer and they don’t know what to do,” he said.
According to State Representative Tim Whelan of the 1st Barnstable District, the need for more vaccines is critical.
“Cape Cod needs help right now, not next week, not 3 weeks from now, we need help right now,” he told Boston 25 News on Saturday.
Rep. Whelan explained that his complaints seem to have fallen on deaf ears with the state not taking action to protect the most vulnerable Cape Codders.
“These are the people that need to get the shots, and they’re not getting them because they’re coming over the bridge […] in a trickle,” he said.
There are currently no mass vaccination sites in Barnstable County, making the commute for some elderly residents an hour or more.
“We have people that are volunteering to pay for buses to bring seniors up to the mass vaccination sites. The problem is we can’t move some of these people. We can’t put them on buses because it could turn into a super spreader event on the bus too,” he said.
Rep. Whelan added that the state has been hyper-focused on data and has been disregarding what he called ‘a human element’ to the vaccination process.
“When I have a 92-year-old World War II veteran, a female constituent, reaching out to my office because she can’t get access to the vaccine and there’s no way that she can get up to Gillette Stadium or another mass vaccination site, I cannot say to her, ‘I’m sorry but the data just doesn’t show that you’re going to get your shot,’” he said.
Many towns are now sending letters to Gov. Charlie Baker asking for help. On Saturday, the Yarmouth Board of Selectmen wrote the following letter, stating in part, “the response to this crisis has been seriously lacking.”
Chris Lambton, Town of Dennis Select Board Member, told Boston 25 News on Saturday that the discussion about getting more vaccines needs to continue.
“Our citizens are telling me all these stories about having to drive off Cape to get shots, the lack of vaccinations, the lack of communication,” he said. “The more people we can get backing Cape Codders, the better.”
He added that the few appointments that have become available thus far have been taken within a half an hour.
“The last clinic in Hyannis, it sold out in 23 minutes. All of the vaccinations were done in 23 minutes,” he said. “A thousand vaccinations a week is just not going to do it.
“It’s really the wild west down here right now,” Whelan said.
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