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Newton health officials to focus vaccinations on people in ‘high-risk’ congregate housing

Newton City Hall.
Newton City Hall.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said Tuesday that the city’s Health and Human Services staff will focus in February on vaccinating people in high-risk congregate housing, and the city is developing a webpage to provide residents with easy access to the latest vaccine distribution information.

Her statement came just days before the state was due to launch Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout on Feb. 1. It also followed an alert from the Baker administration to local health officials across the state warning that COVID-19 vaccine supplies may be limited next month due to a shortage of allocations from the federal government.

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Newton officials were told Sunday that the state is not allocating local health departments vaccines for large public health clinics, Fuller said, and Newton’s health department has been capped at 100 doses per week through February.

The state is focusing Phase 2 vaccination distribution at high-volume, large venue sites like Gillette Stadium, she said.

At the beginning of Phase 2, residents age 75 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. Governor Charlie Baker announced Monday that people who are age 65 and older and those with two chronic health conditions have been prioritized to receive the vaccine next — though it means delaying providing doses to some workers, including teachers and grocery store employees.

“The information and plans for vaccination sites has a lot of people in Newton feeling frustrated and more than ready for their turn in line after months of suffering through this pandemic,” Fuller said. “I am almost in daily communication with partners across the Commonwealth and decision makers on Beacon Hill, sharing our concerns and working to encourage better systems to serve our residents and employees.”

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 3,000 cases of COVID-19 in Newton, and nearly 200 deaths, according to the city.

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Fuller said the city is setting up a vaccine webpage in the coming days to provide information for residents about vaccine distribution.

Newton Senior Services staff and volunteers are conducting outreach for those who need help with the online sign-up process. Those who need assistance are asked to call the Newton Senior Center at (617) 796-1660.

Newton’s public health staff is also holding online virtual meetings with older residents in Newton on Wednesday, Feb. 3, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Fuller said. Pre-registration is required, and residents can sign up online.

“Our staff will be answering questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to get clear, accurate information out about the vaccine and distribution,” Fuller said.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.