Some days it's hard to tell if progress is being made toward getting large numbers of people vaccinated against the coronavirus. If you're in the "phase 3" portion – the general public – then April through June, as noted on the state Department of Public Health website, feels like a long way off.

We would like to be a voice of optimism, knowing that the phase we are in now loops in thousands of police, firefighters, EMTs and other ambulance personnel all over the state. One clinic that opened this week at the spacious Topsfield Fairgrounds will see firefighters from Topsfield, Hamilton, Wenham, Boxford and Middleton receive vaccinations. And starting Thursday, more than 200 first responders from eight Greater Newburyport communities can queue up to receive shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Newburyport Senior Community Center. 

These clinics are being organized to loop in a number of smaller communities because the vaccine shipments hold 200 vials, each containing 10 doses, according to WBUR. Once a vial is opened, all 10 doses have to be used within six hours, which is why people are being scheduled and lined up to be vaccinated promptly.

We would hope for nothing less, since the importance of getting everyone vaccinated can't be overstated.

Health and medical officials have been gearing up for this since the initial announcement that vaccines would be delivered.

Frank Giacalone, the Newburyport health agent, told reporter Dave Rogers, "I am very excited to be in a collaborative to do this for our first responders. They're out there and just to be able to administer it to them" is great news.

Likewise, Tim McDonald, the health and human services director for the town of Needham, told WBUR, "We will not waste anything, absolutely not. And this is slightly glib, (but if there are leftovers) we will go up to Sudbury Farms and find someone who looks like they're 75 and we will stick it in their arm."

That's the sense of urgency and purpose all of our health officials need to bring to this vital effort to get everyone vaccinated quickly and efficiently. Don't let up. Don't slow down and do keep those lines moving. 

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