SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The first Massachusetts residents in a long term care facility received their CVOID-19 vaccines Monday.

It kicked off a process of inoculating some of the most vulnerable people against the deadly virus.

The Loomis Lakeside Facility will get the COVID-19 vaccine first thing next week, continuing the effort statewide to prioritize the most vulnerable populations first.

“This gets to be the start of helping people stop dying from getting the virus,” long term care facility resident Shirley Nolan said.

Monday’s vaccine rollout in this greater Boston area nursing home is the first step in protecting vulnerable people against COVID-19. Earlier this year, state health officials said there are more than 700 long-term care facilities in Massachusetts.

Baystate Health CEO Dr. Mark Keroack said his hospital employees will get the Moderna vaccine from now on, as the Pfizer vaccine is now headed to those congregate living facilities where the virus can spread like wildfire.

“Future allocations of Pfizer were put into the pipeline for long-term care seniors and assisted living,” Dr. Keroack explained. “They handed them over to Walgreens and CVS.”

The Pfizer vaccine must be kept at subzero temperatures, and Dr. Keroack said the pharmacy chains are best equipped to store them in large numbers.

Officials with Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing said their residents, quote, “will be receiving their first COVID-19 vaccines on January 4. We are elated and are counting down the days.”

Over in Agawam, the Heritage Hall Campus also received good news.

Representatives for that campus said, “vaccination of staff and residents at heritage hall campus is scheduled to begin at Heritage Hall West on December 30, 2020, working with CVS as our chosen partner through the pharmacy partnership for long term care program. Heritage Hall South and Memory Support of Heritage Hall are scheduled to occur on January 3, 2021, and Heritage Hall North will occur on January 5, 2021.”

Local healthcare officials said they are prepared to vaccinate a different population that's also likely to be infected.

“Right now I know that our role will be to vaccinate first responders,” Dr. Keroack said.

In the city of Springfield, health officials will begin a program called Vax Force soon, a task force dedicated to providing factual resources and information about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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