CHEERS to making up for missed shots.
Methuen health officials, whose COVID-19 vaccination clinic at The Loop was basically shut down by the state, reported a shipment of 400 shots last week.
Those shots will supply a clinic planned for Tuesday; all of the spots had been claimed as of Friday, Mayor Neil Perry told reporter Bill Kirk.
“Those 400 shots went in the blink of an eye,” Perry said.
Not a week earlier, Perry was steaming mad when the state turned off supplies to local vaccine clinics at the last minute, including the weekly clinic at The Loop that had been giving out shots 100 doses at a time.
The state stanched the vaccine flow not just to Methuen but to most local clinics, pointing people instead to mass vaccination sites such as one at the DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers, Fenway Park or Gillette Stadium.
Still, the decision made little sense in light of the fact that state health officials had also declared Methuen — along with Haverhill, Lawrence and 17 other communities — as eligible for more resources in light of extraordinarily large numbers of local COVID-19 cases.
The slight on Methuen drew the ire and determination of Perry, members of the City Council, as well as members of Methuen’s delegation to Beacon Hill. Perry specifically pointed to the advocacy of Sen. Diana DiZoglio in getting the vaccine supply restored.
“I appreciate Diana going in there and slugging it out for us,” he told Kirk. “… It’s one thing for me as mayor to say, but it’s more powerful when a state senator says it. I really appreciate it that she’s with us, and my thanks go out to her.”
As should the thanks of others in Methuen for whom COVID-19 vaccine is again locally available, even if clinics are only allowed a few hundred doses at a time.
Methuen residents may also get vaccines at the regional clinic at Greater Lawrence Family Health Center; at CVS in Methuen; at the Lawrence General Hospital site at South Lawrence East Elementary School; or at the mass vaccination sites throughout the state.
COVID-19 vaccines in Massachusetts are available only to those who qualify: people 65 and older, first responders, health care workers, residents in long-term and congregate care centers, seniors living in low-income and affordable housing, and people with certain medical conditions.
CHEERS to getting breakfast for a neighbor.
That’s just what members of the Kindness Collaborative did — along with their sprawling network of supporters and volunteers — when they doubled down on a goal set by the Merrimack Valley YMCA to collect 2,021 boxes of breakfast cereal for its food pantry based at the Lawrence YMCA.
“That seemed like a big number for about five seconds,” Melissa Marrama, a co-founder of the collaborative, told reporter Madeline Hughes.
The group and its helpers — schools, Scout troops, local businesses and residents pitched in — gathered more than 5,000 boxes. Marrama estimated that would cover breakfast for a couple hundred families for more than three months.
Beneficiaries of the Kindness Collaborative reach far beyond beyond the Lawrence YMCA, of course. The group co-led by Alex Bromberg, Darcie Nuttall and Carmen Frias-Interrante has helped local shelters and other organizations, mostly by organizing and focusing the good will of supporters on social media.
Their work couldn’t be more timely, at least for the YMCA's food pantry.
The number of Americans considered “food insecure” has grown vastly amid the pandemic, which is to say far more households don't have sufficient resources to ensure everyone can lead a healthy lifestyle.
According to the group Feeding America, more than 50 million people — 17 million of whom are children — are now considered food insecure because of COVID-19. In our region, the rate of food insecurity last year was nearly 14%, according to the group, compared to 8% before the pandemic started.
The many, many boxes of Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, Cheerios and other breakfast cereals may not be enough to solve that problem. But they certainly help ensure that more people in the Merrimack Valley will be starting off their days with a good meal.