Sen. Bruce Tarr gets his shot

State Sen. Bruce Tarr receives his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on May 1. (Photo courtesy Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative)

AMESBURY — It appears supply has outstripped demand as the Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative announced it will end its COVID-19 vaccination clinics May 22.

The city has taken the lead role in the collaborative to schedule and administer vaccinations against COVID-19. The group also includes Salisbury, Newburyport, West Newbury, Newbury, Merrimac, Rowley, Georgetown and Groveland.

The collaborative has mainly used Amesbury High School as a mass vaccination site since late February.

Amesbury communications director Caitlin Thayer said while the clinics proved to be popular throughout February, March and April, fewer people have been coming lately.

“We fully expected that when the eligibility opened up to the general population that our clinics would be full again,” Thayer said Tuesday. “Registration had started to slow down a bit and we felt like we were saturating the previous eligibility. Then, eligibility opened up on April 19, and the following weekend’s clinic filled up pretty slowly.”

Thayer said the collaborative hosted a clinic last weekend that was only half full.

“We couldn’t find anyone,” she said. “That really tells us that if we can’t fill it, then our population is pretty saturated. It seems that people are finding a vaccine elsewhere or are not wanting the vaccine.”

Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new plan on Monday to scale down several mass vaccination sites over the next month in favor of focusing on regional, local and mobile vaccination clinics.

Thayer said the collaborative will host only five more clinics through May 22.

Amesbury High has also been phased out of the vaccination program and the future clinics will take place at Rupert A. Nock Middle School, 70 Low St., Newburyport.

“Stop & Shop has more, CVS has more, Walgreens is doing it,” Thayer said of vaccine doses. “There are just a lot more clinics now.”

She said Amesbury has been involved in the vaccination of about 23,000 Massachusetts residents since the new year began.

“We are close to 90% of our 75 and older residents,” Thayer said Tuesday. The latest weekly data report from the state Department of Public Health, on April 29, said 78% of Amesbury residents age 75 and over were fully vaccinated.

Thayer also said 85% of Amesbury residents ages 65 to 74 have been fully vaccinated and an additional 14% have received at least one dose. That age group should hit 99% within the next two weeks, she said.

“As of last week, we were at over 6,500 residents who are fully vaccinated,” she said. “It will be even more soon. We should be done with all of our second doses by the first week of June and I will be curious to see how many of our residents we got through.”

Thayer praised the work of local Councils on Aging in making appointments for people and providing rides during the vaccination effort.

“They have just done an incredible job,” she said.

Jack Morris, Salisbury’s health director, appeared before the town’s selectmen April 26 and confirmed that many of the people involved with the collaborative have been working seven days a week since the clinics began.

Thayer confirmed the work schedule Tuesday.

“If we can’t fill our clinics, then it feels like our job here is done,” Thayer said. “We are not going to force this on our community.”

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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