In a COVID-19 update this week, Public Health Director Joyce Sullivan reiterated to residents and the schools the importance of remaining vigilant and adhering to health and safety protocols even as the number of new coronavirus cases in Hull declined slightly during the past two weeks.
“We still have 17 COVID-19 cases, although the number has been much higher at other times,” Sullivan, a registered nurse, said at this week’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting. “We may see more [cases] after spring break.”
Hull’s first coronavirus case was reported on March 31 of last year. As of last Wednesday, the total number of cases in Hull since that time was 599. The town remains in the medium-risk yellow zone.
The state is no longer providing the vaccines to local clinics (including Hull’s Board of Health) except for second doses, focusing instead on supplying mass-vaccine sites. CVS and other pharmacies are also offering vaccinations.
“So far, we’ve been able to get 423 people vaccinated, including 180 who have received their second dose, and more appointments are scheduled,” Sullivan reported.
As of March 9, about 94 percent of residents age 75 and over had received their first dose, with many scheduled for their second doses last Thursday, including some home visits, according to Sullivan.
“The state has a program for the homebound, and we have their names and addresses so we can reach out to them,” she said.
Sullivan expressed some frustration, shared by residents and others trying to get vaccinated, that even as more people become eligible for inoculations under the various phases of the state’s program, there is no guarantee that the vaccine will be available.
“Some people are waiting for their first dose, but we don’t expect any more vaccine from the state [for boards of health clinics], although things are changing daily,” she said. “We’re just trying to finish administering vaccines to those who need second doses.”
Sullivan voiced disappointment with the fact that after the Hull Board of Health committed to administering vaccines during all the phases of the state’s vaccination program, the supply was cut off.
However, the good news, she said, is that the feedback from those who have been able to get the vaccine has been only positive.
Still, she cautioned that getting a vaccination is no guarantee of immunity. “We’ve had cases where people who have been vaccinated later come down with COVID,” she said. “We recommend that people continue wearing face masks and social distancing even once vaccinated, especially with warm weather coming. We don’t want people to have a false sense of security. They need to be diligent, especially around large groups of people.”
Selectman Domenico Sestito thanked Sullivan and her team for their efforts. “It’s been a long year. The road ahead may look better, but we just don’t know,” he said.
Board Chair Jennifer Constable echoed Sestito’s praise for the Board of Health’s efforts. “To say that it’s been a challenging year is an understatement,” she told Sullivan. “I want to thank you all for what you have done and are doing. We know the issue is with the limited supply and not receiving the vaccine.”