ATTLEBORO — They came from far and near Monday to get their first shot of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Attleboro’s first large-scale clinic, and those interviewed for this story left pleased with the process.
“It was very nice, very easy,” Sean Hall, 51, of Taunton said of his visit to LaSalette Shrine. “Everyone was very welcoming and it went smoothly.”
Hall works in Norton and came to the shrine on his lunch hour to get one of the 300 doses available.
Any Massachusetts resident 18 or older was eligible to take advantage of the clinic opportunity.
Hall said he’s been patiently waiting for his turn and that he’s happy to do his part to stave off the potentially deadly virus.
“We can’t get back to normalcy until we eradicate what we’ve been going through,” he said.
The clinic was run by Attleboro’s Health Department, assisted by volunteers from the Bristol Norfolk Medical Reserve Corps.
Health Agent Jessica Horsman and Health Nurse Jacquie O’Brien headed up the operation, which will be repeated every Monday until the need runs out.
Mayor Paul Heroux, who conducted a tour of the clinic for members of the media, said the number of doses is expected to increase to at least 700 at some point.
It’s not known when that will happen, but Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that he aims to shut down four of the state’s seven mass vaccination sites by the end of June and deploy more vaccine to 22 regional clinics, including the one in Attleboro.
Those scheduled for closure are Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Double Tree Inn at Danvers and the Natick Mall.
Those sites inoculate thousands of people every day.
Baker said the new goal is to reach populations that are disproportionately affected.
“The administration will continue to adapt vaccine efforts to be more targeted and will shift vaccines to smaller scale operations focusing on certain populations and specific communities — such as the Commonwealth’s 20 most disproportionately impacted communities,” he said in a news release.
He also said the next phase of the state’s vaccine effort will include providing all 22 regional collaboratives, including Attleboro’s, with enough doses to fully operate their programs.
The city Health Department’s clinic was originally set up to administer 750 doses per session.
Attleboro is teaming with Taunton, Fall River, Somerset and Swansea to operate the five-community collaborative.
Taunton has clinics on Tuesdays and Saturdays, Fall River conducts its clinic on Wednesdays and Somerset and Swansea operate theirs on Thursday.
No clinics are scheduled on Fridays or Sundays.
Coronavirus has done plenty of damage in Attleboro, infecting at least 4,174 residents and killing at least 106.
In the 10-community Sun Chronicle coverage area it has infected at least 15,952 and killed at least 275.
Meanwhile, statewide and locally, the case numbers are starting to come down as the number of inoculations goes up.
As of Sunday, 52 percent of the state’s population had gotten one of the two shots required by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and 37 percent were fully vaccinated by Pfizer, Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The week ending May 1 recorded the fewest weekly deaths statewide so far, 73, and the number of cases fell for the fourth consecutive week to 7,668, the lowest case count since the week ending Oct. 31.
Last week Attleboro recorded just 48 new cases and no new deaths.
On Monday there were seven clinicians administering the shots in Attleboro.
When the number of available doses goes up the number of clinicians will increase to 10, Heroux said.
Hall said signing up was not much of a problem.
It was nothing like the early days when websites crashed and people were left frustrated, anxious and without an appointment.
Vanessa Jose, 40, was one of the people who came from far away, Reading to be exact.
This was the first clinic she could get into via the state’s vaxfinder.mass.gov website, but the distance was not a problem.
“It’s a drive, but it’s worth it,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for this a long time.”
She said registration was not a problem and the process at the clinic was easy, although she was a little apprehensive about the shot itself.
But it was nothing to be feared.
“I didn’t even feel it,” she said.
And in a month she’ll make the long trek again for her second dose.
“To be safe for myself and my family I’ll do whatever it takes,” Jose said.
Jamie Scanlon, 36, of Attleboro, said she chose to get vaccinated at the shrine clinic because it was convenient. She said she was looking forward to the second shot so that she can finally visit her mother-in-law, a resident at Life Care of Attleboro, which is next door to the shrine.
Rebecca White, 29, jumped at the chance to get her first inoculation as soon as possible and that turned out to be on Monday.
She said the process was quick and she was happy to make the short drive from her home in Taunton.
“It was good and it was fast,” she said.
For those looking to make an appointment at the Attleboro clinic or elsewhere, go to vaxfinder.mass.gov or call 2-1-1.