With Omicron Looming, Medical Director Urges Vaccination

by | Jan 3, 2022

The town is hosting two clinics in January

Dr. Hub Brennan, the medical director of the town’s vaccine clinics, didn’t mince words Monday. “We’re about to be in the thick of it,” he said about an anticipated spike in COVID-19 cases due to the very transmissible Omicron variant. “Anything we can do to get anybody vaccinated would be impactful.”

He said he hopes anyone who is not yet vaccinated will consider visiting either of the two vaccine clinics at Swift Community Center this month – on Jan. 13 and Jan. 27. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be available and the clinics are open to people needing first, second or third doses. (Times and signup links below.)

Weekly case rate by vaccination status in Rhode Island, from WPRI-12’s COVID tracker (https://www.wpri.com/covid-19-tracking-timeline-maps/).

Brennan acknowledged the difficulty in convincing those who are unvaccinated to get the shot, noting that 15 percent of his own patients (Brennan & Cronin on South County Trail) have refused the vaccine. It’s been frustrating, he said. “There’s nothing I’ve been able to say or do to change their minds.”

Yet, he said he persists in working at the clinics and promoting vaccination, especially right now, because of the highly contagious nature of the Omicron variant. Omicron appears to be less dangerous – more of a head cold than a lung infection – but the number of cases are projected be so much higher than with Delta that it could cause serious illness for some (mainly older people and those with compromised immune systems) and swamp the health care system. 

Some businesses and schools are dealing with staffing shortages. At EG schools, administrators and central office staff are helping to fill staff absences, as noted in a social media post by School Committee member Nicole Bucka Monday:

Thinking of the many staff, students, and community members supporting one another today.  I also want to give a thank you to those who are stepping up to help our schools maintain the normalcy of face-to-face time during a challenging staff shortage.  Please join me in thanking:

Ms. Amy Healey [assistant to Supt. Meyer] – filling in at Frenchtown

Dr. Lisa Hughes – serving at Meadowbrook as a special educator

Assistant Supt Mike Podraza – supporting the high school team, then substituting at Hanaford

MTSS Coordinator Neil Marcaccio – filling in at Eldredge as principal

Our amazing Superintendent Mrs. Meyer, who spent the morning at the high school supporting our students with the support of the staff along with Bob Houghtaling, Christine King and Pastor Tim Rich. Then, she went to Frenchtown to teach Grade 2 students.

According to Town Manager Andy Nota, small numbers of police and fire are out with COVID or possible COVID. Services have not been affected, he said.

If you want to sign up for the upcoming vaccine clinics– which take place from 2 to 6:15 p.m. both days, here are the links:

Jan. 13 – https://www.vaccinateri.org/appointment/en/reg/5192206501

Jan. 27 – https://www.vaccinateri.org/appointment/en/reg/1560525902

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