Two safe and effective COVID vaccines have been given emergency use authorization by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These vaccines, made by Pfizer and Moderna, have already been given to more than 2,000 COVID-facing health-care workers in Berkshire County, as well as more than 35,000 in the Commonwealth, more than 2 million across the United States and more than 4.4 million worldwide. By the time you read these words those numbers will have increased. To date, there have been a few (roughly six) accounts of serious allergic reactions, mostly in those with a history of anaphylaxis, and all were treated quickly at the scene and recovered fully. Otherwise, side effects have been minor – mostly sore arms and mild flu like symptoms lasting about 24 hours. All those already vaccinated will need a second injection in 21 (Pfizer) or 28 (Moderna) days. Both vaccines were shown to be roughly 95% effective in preventing COVID in clinical trials of more than 30,000 individuals each.
The chart below shows the prioritization of populations for COVID vaccine distribution in Massachusetts. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, as fiscal host for Berkshire County Boards of Health Association (BCBOHA) and the Berkshire Public Health Alliance are coordinating COVID vaccination for the First Responders (Fire, Police and EMS) for the 32 municipalities in Berkshire County. Emergency Dispensing Site (EDS) planning that has occurred over the past 15 years under the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) funding will be utilized to plan and execute the clinics. Vaccine is expected to be delivered the week of January 4, for vaccination clinics the week of January 11. Up to seven clinics for each round are expected to be held in south, central & north county to ensure all first responders have an opportunity to be vaccinated. Partners in this effort include Berkshire Medical Center, Fairview Hospital, Northern Berkshire EMS, County Ambulance and the City of Pittsfield, as well as other local Boards of Health, Fire and Police throughout the county. We also thank Berkshire Community College, W.E.B.DuBois Middle School and the Berkshire Hills School District and St. Elizabeth’s Church in North Adams for providing space for the vaccination clinics. Please contact Laura Kittross for more information.