9 Metro North communities, health alliance, Tufts launch Covid-vaccination effort

Tufts' Gantcher Center awaits vaccine takers. / Tufts photoTufts' Gantcher Center awaits vaccine takers. / Tufts photo

UPDATED May 5: The new Metro North Covid-19 Vaccination Partnership -- a consortium of nine cities, Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) and Tufts University -- plans to open three joint vaccination sites to expand Covid-19 vaccine access in the metro north area. The regional partnership was recently approved by the state Department of Public Health as a part of its statewide network of vaccination locations.  

Situated at CHA’s vaccination centers at 176 Somerville Ave. in Somerville and Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, plus Tufts University’s Gantcher Center in Medford, the three sites will be operated and staffed by the CHA, local Boards of Health and Tufts University, with CHA serving as the health provider for all three.

The sites at the Gantcher Center and Encore started administering vaccines the first week of May, and the Somerville site is expected to open the second week of May. Cities and towns participating include Arlington, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council is also helping to coordinate participating municipalities. 

'Closer to home'

“Our communities and organizations came together to help advance both the statewide vaccination effort and to bring the vaccine closer to home especially for our vulnerable residents and workers. These centers aim to help break down the barriers to vaccine access and increase vaccine equity by reducing travel, language, and mobility challenges. For all of us, being ‘in this together’ truly means combining resources and working together to beat this virus,” the partnership explained via a joint statement May 5.  

“These communities have been on the front lines of the pandemic since it first hit our region in early 2020, and are in dire need of a regional solution to increasing the rates of vaccination and building vaccine confidence,” said Mark Fine, director of municipal collaboration at MAPC. “By banding together to get doses closer to where residents live and work, we can increase the pace of vaccinations and ensure folks have access to this critical public health resource regardless of immigration status, car ownership, English fluency, work hours, or access to health insurance.”

The sites will follow CHA’s accessible and supportive vaccine clinic approach with multilingual services, welcoming signage, neighborhood-based locations and accommodations for anyone requiring seating, shelter or support as they wait. 

"As a community health system that serves several of the communities that were among the hardest hit during the pandemic, we are committed to doing everything we can to help local residents get and stay healthy," said Dr. Assaad Sayah, Cambridge Health Alliance CEO. "The partnership will provide consistent and convenient access to Covid-19 vaccinations and accelerate efforts to get us past this crisis."

“We’re pleased to work with our regional municipal partners, Cambridge Health Alliance, and Tufts to help accelerate vaccinations in our communities,” said Christine Bongiorno, Arlington Health & Human Services director, in the release. “We’ve been anxious for more local clinics to serve our residents who have difficulty traveling and to contribute our expertise to the overall vaccination efforts in the state.”

The partnership applied to DPH with a proposal for the three sites combined to deliver a minimum of 750 doses per day, the threshold for approval as a mass vaccination site, with the capacity to deliver as many as 5,000 a day. By uniting to create a cluster of sites, the communities were able to qualify for approval. The sites will also have the ability to adjust their staffing in response to changes in vaccine supply.

“Helping our local communities throughout this public health crisis has been a priority for Tufts – it’s the right thing to do,” said Tufts University President Anthony P. Monaco. “We have hosted first responders, hospital personnel and Covid patients in our dorms, provided testing to our neighbors and school personnel, supported hard-hit food security programs, provided grants to struggling nonprofits, and helped launch affordable pooled testing programs in the Medford and Somerville public school systems. Serving as a regional mass vaccination site is one more way we can help, and we’re proud to collaborate with our partners in this effort.”

Mobile, popup vaccination under development

The three sites will be open to all Massachusetts residents. To make appointments, click here >>

 Residents can also visit VaxFinder.mass.gov or call 211 to register for an appointment at any state site.

In an effort to best serve its vulnerable populations, the partnership also successfully requested permission to reserve 25 percent of vaccine doses for targeted vaccine clinics for residents of their nine communities. Plans are being considered for mobile and popup sites designed to reach underserved persons and areas.

Vaccine site at Tufts includes Arlington, as doses awaited

Reported March 23, 2021: The state Department of Public Health has approved a regional vaccination collaborative that includes Arlington, Cambridge, Medford, Somerville and five other communities, the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) and Tufts University, CambridgeDay reports.

It could offer vaccinations to local residents if the state allocates any doses to the partnership – but right now there is no vaccine available, Cambridge’s chief public health officer, Claude Jacob, told Cambridge’s City Council on Monday.

The plan for a Metro North Covid-19 Vaccination Partnership was approved March 16 by the state.Proposed sites for vaccination centers so far are the Gantcher Family Sports and Convocation Center on Tufts’ Medford campus and a CHA site near Target, between Inman Square and Somerville’s Inner Belt neighborhood, Jacob said.

Both have parking and are along bus lines. “Other sites TBD,” according to a slide in his presentation.

There is no start date. “The launch of the Metro North vaccination site is contingent on more vaccine supply becoming available,” Jacob said. “The city will actively promote the regional sites once we have the go-ahead from the state.”

The state cut most local health agencies out of vaccination plans in February and steered residents to big mass vaccination sites such as Fenway Park or Gillette Stadium that officials deemed more efficient.

Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said Feb. 22 that the city was talking to unnamed regional partners about a vaccination site “supported” by the Cambridge Health Alliance that would serve as the “regional health care delivery system” for residents.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine hinted at the news to come to the Select Board on Monday, March 22: "Vaccine dosages are increasing, so we hope to soon offer vaccines closer than Fenway Park."


March 2021: Daily Covid-19 update (since March 2020) Covid-19 image


This news announcement was published Tuesday, March 23, 2021. It was provided by YourArlington partner CambridgeDay.com. It was updated the same day, to add a quote from the manager.