It was about two months ago when the East Greenwich Fire Department was down to eight available firefighters due to Covid-19. They hope to avoid an issue like that with any department going forward. 

That’s why when vaccination sites were being set up in East Greenwich they made the decision to get as many of their professional employees vaccinated as possible. 

Town Manager Andrew Nota explained that when a vaccination POD at a distribution center is set up like the one in East Greenwich, “there is a significant number of professional staff that is required to fully active the site.” 

According to Nota, after going through what they went through with their fire department they wanted to do what they could to make sure they have the personnel needed. 

That’s why when the time came to find people to help man the PODS in a number of different ways they tried to get as many city employees as possible to do so. That means that they would also be required to be vaccinated according to Nota. 

After seeing first hand what Covid can do to a department it was an easy decision for Nota to make.

“The state POD protocols in a dispensing event, call for all personnel to be vaccinated as part of the site’s operation. So all POD personnel are eligible to be vaccinated,” Nota said. “So the option of using ‘others’ that are able to provide the support required or to manage the process and utilize existing Town professional staff in varying capacities was an easy decision to make.”

Aside from having healthy employees through the remainder of the pandemic and beyond, Nota also explained that the employees who were vaccinated will be able to play a key role in distributing vaccines to the general public once that is mobilized. 

“The idea of managing this process and building resiliency and continuity into the organization to eliminate the possibility of added service disruption and the continuation of high level public services is an important step for the community moving forward,” Nota stated in an email after the council meeting. “In addition, this same professional staff will be the key to the continued successful use of PODS in the community as we roll-out the vaccine to the full population of the community in the coming months.”

Nota said that as of right now they are confident that they can meet this goal, stating “I can confidently say that at this juncture, we are prepared to do just that.”

During the council meeting Nota stated that about 3/4th of city personnel have been vaccinated.

School Vaccinations 

Nota also explained during the meeting that as of right now the guidelines from the state call for each individual town and cities to vaccinate all school employees in their respective towns. 

For East Greenwich, Nota said that it means vaccinating a little over 400 employees and he said that it should take them about one afternoon. 

He noted that all school nurses and substitute nurses for the district have already been vaccinated. Like with city employees Nota explained that this will be beneficial to the city when they go to vaccinate school personnel because they will be able to run all 10 vaccination pods at one time. 

At this point Nota said that it’s just a matter of supply and when they get the vaccinations needed they will be ready to go. He said during the council meeting that realistically they are looking at the beginning of March.

“We will be prepared to take care of our schools as soon as possible,” Nota stated. 

Who’s next?

Nota pointed out during the meeting that many people in the community and across the state are wondering when they will receive their vaccine. He explained that there are many factors that will go into deciding who will be vaccinated during phase 2 and when.

“The State is receiving feedback from the COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee to inform planning for Phase 2. They are looking at national recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and consulting with industry leaders and subject matter experts,” Nota wrote in his council report. “RIDOH is also receiving and tracking outreach from many community members and advocates. While there are no easy answers during a pandemic, equity is a top priority that will continue to inform our vaccine planning. The state is committed to sharing more specific information as soon as decisions are made about future phases.”

As of the end of Tuesday the East Greenwich regional vaccine dispensary site completed the first round of over half the people eligible for the vaccine in phase 1. They included a myriad of health professionals, hospital staff, first responders nursing home staff, and those who care for the elderly among others. 

The next round of vaccinations for phase 1 are currently slated to begin on Jan.25 with the remainder of the medical professionals including dentists, primary care and outpatient providers, as well as funeral home directors and other death care professionals. From there the final group to receive their vaccine in phase 1 will be those who are 75 or older. They are currently expected to be vaccinated in February/ March. 

Nota warned to keep an eye out for future updates as things continue to change as new guidance comes from the state. 

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