Remember the little things, like bumping into friends at a restaurant, shaking hands and talking, face to face?
Or the big things, like hugging grandchildren?
Those exchanges have seemed like a foreign concept since March of last year when the coronavirus pandemic shut down many businesses and, more importantly, personal contact with our friends and loved ones.
A small step toward fixing that will begin next week when the first of a series of regional COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be conducted at LaSalette Shrine in Attleboro.
The clinic will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. Those seeking appointments can sign up on the state’s vaxfinder.mass.gov website.
Although it was hoped that 750 doses would be available, the clinic does mean that 300 more people will have the opportunity to be inoculated from the illness that has stifled personal interactions for the past 13 months.
Having a clinic in our backyard is especially important for those facing transportation challenges and for the elderly population who may be hesitant to travel to the nearest state clinic at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
“The importance of this clinic cannot be understated,” Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux said. “First, it is critically important that everyone gets vaccinated.
The vaccines are safe and effective. Second, having a clinic in Attleboro allows for easier access to people who have transportation challenges.”
The clinic is the result of work by officials in Bristol County who said the region was a “vaccine desert” and sought to bring COVID-19 shots to Attleboro and four other communities: Fall River, Somerset, Swansea and Taunton.
It’s also another sign that Massachusetts is leading the country in getting vaccinated.
According to a survey released last week by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on the number of Americans who said they would “probably not” or “definitely not” get the COVID-19 vaccine, 10 of the 11 counties with the lowest rates of hesitancy in the entire country are in Massachusetts. Massachusetts had the lowest statewide hesitancy rate, at just 7 percent; and just 3 percent of Bay Staters said they would definitely not get the vaccine.
The one Massachusetts county not in the top 11, however, is Bristol County at a still strong 8.6 percent, better than every other state except Vermont. These clinics will provide hundreds of residents the opportunity to ease the threat of COVID-19 against their health.
Just as importantly, it will allow a little normalcy to return, things like shaking a friend’s hand and giving a grandchild a hug.