A Letter to the Editor: COVID Vaccines. Local Coordination And Common Sense, Please.


To the Editor, 

I wanted to share a letter I wrote this week to Gov. Charlie Baker.  We’ve got a lot to be proud of when it comes with living through the pandemic, and a lot of people have sacrificed a lot to remain safe.  But as a nurse, when it comes to rolling out the vaccine, we can do better.  I’ve spoken to many residents and fellow health professionals and we all agree that local communities like ours is where we need to start.  A little common sense can go a long way. 

Dear Governor Baker, 

I’m a retired nurse in Manchester-by-the-Sea with elderly parents, kids at home, and a husband with a heart condition.  My parents are 75 and 76 years old.  We see them every day, my children are high school and college age, and we have made the conscious decision to not mix with the general population so that we can keep my parents safe.  My children are schooling remotely, at home.  My husband and I work from home by choice.  Like all families in our position here in Massachusetts, our kids have had to live in an almost alternate universe of no activities outside the house, except for riding their bikes alone.  We’ve been doing our part, doing what it takes to get through this challenging time, all to protect people like my parents and my husband, who is a cardiac patient.   

I’ve been holding my breath since Day One of this pandemic, praying for a vaccine in the hopes that my parents won’t become part of the HUGE number of dead people who weren’t able to hide from this horrible virus.  We’re exactly like thousands of local residents who have remained vigilant and compliant in the face of this pandemic and these last several weeks, watching vaccination plans roll out in regions around the country I have to ask you to, please, explain to me what on Earth is going on here in Massachusetts? 

When the vaccines were approved, I knew we had to be patient because, frankly, I didn’t have all that much faith in the powers that be at the federal level.   

But here we are.  The vaccine is available.  We knew we’d have a change in administration.  We’re all here in Massachusetts watching the vaccines making their way around the country on the news TO OTHER STATES, with many farther ahead on their vaccinations.  It’s incredibly frustrating.   

What, in God’s name is going on here?!  As a nurse, I can tell you it should not be this difficult!  My suggestion is to work with local towns and enlist the help of retired nurses (like me), doctors, nursing students and other available health care workers in each town.  We will help you.  Set up vaccine sites in each town, give us the materials and watch how quickly and efficiently we will get vaccinations done, safely and effectively.   

I’ve spoken with fellow nurses and residents here in Manchester-by-the-Sea and all say they’re interested in helping with grass roots action, in partnership with our local Board of Health.  Use us!  Our town of approximately 5,500 could be vaccinated quickly, especially if guided by common sense and managed by locals who know their own community.  The average patient hospitalized here with COVID is 71 years old.  They’re not particularly savvy with securing online appointment slots on a national pharmacy website, and they’re not comfortable driving to Foxboro to wait online.  Ask yourself.  Why are prisoners getting vaccines before teachers?  If you want schools to open quickly?  Perhaps making local schools sites for vaccines can be a good, common sense approach.  It’s not rocket science. Delegate the responsibility to each town, give them the necessary supplies and watch it get done. 

 We’ve all been hurting way too long to hold a carrot (vaccine) in front of our face only to have it disappear. This is not meant to be disrespectful in any way.  I’m so proud to live in Massachusetts and see what leadership we’ve had from you throughout this pandemic.  We’re close to the end.  Ad I’m writing out of fear, out of frustration as I look at something that I know as a nurse doesn’t have to be this way. 

Still, waiting. 

Christine Metrano-Barber, Manchester 

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