With Covid Variant On The Rise, Town Holding Vaccine Clinic Thursday, July 14

Photo: The clinic will take place at the Beech Street Center

As the BA.5 offshoot of the Omicron Covid-19 variant is on the rise, the Belmont Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents (ages 3+), including 1st, 2nd, and booster shots.

Thursday, July 14, 10 a.m. to Noon
The Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.

This clinic will be operated through a partnership between VaxinateRX and the Belmont Health Department. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be available.

NEW! Those 3 years and older can now sign up to receive their primary vaccine series at this clinic.

Look here for information and to register for a vaccine appointment.

If you have difficulty with registration call  617-993-2720
or Email: Lsharp@belmont-ma.gov for assistance
*Please present insurance cards, photo ID, and vaccination cards at appointment.

Health Dept. Holding Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic May 31, 10AM-2PM, At Beth El Temple

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The Belmont Health Department is offering Covid-19 vaccines to eligible residents, including first, second and booster shots.

The clinic will take place on Tuesday, May 31, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Beth El Temple Center, 2 Concord Ave.

  • Those 5 to 11 can now sign up to receive a booster dose if it has been at least 5 months since their second dose. Individuals 50 years of age and older at least 4 months after getting a first booster.
  • Individuals 18 and older with certain medical conditions may get a second Moderna booster at least 4 months after first booster.
  • Individuals 12 and older with certain medical conditions may get a second Pfizer booster at least 4 months after the first booster.In addition, per the CDC, individuals 18 and older who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

This clinic will be operated through a partnership between VaxinateRX and the Belmont Health Department. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be available.

Find information on the clinic and how to register for a vaccine appointment HERE

To register for an appointment click HERE

If you have difficulty with registration call  617-993-2720 or Email:  Lsharp@belmont-ma.gov for assistance.

Town-Wide Covid Vaccination Clinic At Beth El Temple On Wednesday, May 25

PhotoVaccine/booster shots will be provided to public school students and staff on April 12. (Credit: Wikimedia)

The Belmont Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents, including first, second and booster shots on WednesdayMay 25 from 10 a.m. to Noon at Beth El Temple Center, 2 Concord Ave.

Register for a vaccine appointment here.

Please present insurance cards, photo ID, and vaccination cards at appointment.

The CDC recommended in late March that all individuals over the age of 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals get an additional booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines. The decision follows authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a second booster dose for these groups four months after receiving a first booster of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Those eligible include:

  • Individuals 50 years of age and older at least 4 months after getting a first booster.
  • Individuals 18 and older with certain medical conditions may get a second Moderna booster at least 4 months after first booster.
  • Individuals 12 and older with certain medical conditions may get a second Pfizer booster at least 4 months after the first booster.
  • In addition, per the CDC, individuals 18 and older who received a primary vaccine andbooster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Residents may access booster doses from more than 1,000 locations, with appointments readily available for booking across the Commonwealth. Visit mass.gov/COVIDVaccine to make an appointment.

This clinic will be operated through a partnership between VaxinateRX and the Belmont Health Department. The Pfizer vaccine will be available.

Having difficulty registering? Call 617-993-2720 or Email: Lsharp@belmont-ma.gov for assistance

Board Of Health Recommends June Town Meeting Segment Stays Virtual

Photo: The new Belmont High School auditorium where Town Meeting will likely not take place in 2022

The Belmont Board of Health is recommending the second segment of the 2022 Town Meeting remain virtual, according to a discussion at the board’s monthly meeting on Monday, May 9.

The recommendation now goes before the Select Board for a final decision.

The Town’s Health Director Wesley Chin said he meet recently with Town Moderator Mike Widmer and Town Clerk Ellen Cushman to determine if is possible for the town’s legislative body to meet safely for the three scheduled nights in June when Town Meeting will review and vote on budget articles.

Chin noted to the board that Covid cases have surged in the past month with the CDC placing Middlesex County in its ”high” category for infection.

With the infection risk elevated and best practices for holding an indoor meeting includes people spaced six-foot apart from each other, Widmer and Cushman said the two locations large enough to hold approximately 300 Town Meeting members and staff – the new Belmont High School and the Chenery Middle School auditoriums – are unable to provide the needed separation.

Board member Donna David said she was informed that a possible hybrid option – on site participation with a virtual option or using both auditoriums – was not as an option as the town’s Information Technology department told her a tech solution doesn’t exist at this time to make such a plan work.

Town-Wide Covid Vaccination Clinic At Beth El Temple Tuesday, May 3 

PhotoVaccine/booster shots will be provided to public school students and staff on April 12. (Credit: Wikimedia)

The Belmont Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents, including first, second and booster shots on TuesdayMay 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Beth El Temple Center, 2 Concord Ave.

Register for a vaccine appointment here.

Please present insurance cards, photo ID, and vaccination cards at appointment.

The CDC recommended in late March that all individuals over the age of 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals get an additional booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines. The decision follows authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a second booster dose for these groups four months after receiving a first booster of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Those eligible include:

  • Individuals 50 years of age and older at least 4 months after getting a first booster.
  • Individuals 18 and older with certain medical conditions may get a second Moderna booster at least 4 months after first booster.
  • Individuals 12 and older with certain medical conditions may get a second Pfizer booster at least 4 months after the first booster.
  • In addition, per the CDC, individuals 18 and older who received a primary vaccine andbooster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Residents may access booster doses from more than 1,000 locations, with appointments readily available for booking across the Commonwealth. Visit mass.gov/COVIDVaccine to make an appointment.

This clinic will be operated through a partnership between VaxinateRX and the Belmont Health Department. The Pfizer vaccine will be available.

Having difficulty registering? Call 617-993-2720 or Email: Lsharp@belmont-ma.gov for assistance

Belmont Lifts Mask Mandates For Schools, Indoor Public Spaces

Photo: Masks are no longer required in Belmont schools and at indoor spaces.

Beginning at midnight on Tuesday, March 8, Belmont’s town wide Covid-19 mask mandates for schools and indoor public settings are suspended after both the Select Board and School Committee voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the Board of Health.

The three bodies, which met and voted in rapid succession Monday evening, effectively ends two years of wearing face coverings which began in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic with a short reprieve in late summer between surges of the coronavirus.

While the mandate has ended, the Health Board “highly recommends” children under the age of five – who can not receive a vaccination – and unvaccinated residents of any age to continue wearing masks. For public school students, masks are no longer be required riding school buses but they will continued are still required to wear masks in the nurses’ offices.

Although the mask mandate has been lifted for indoor spaces, businesses may choose to continue mask use for their establishments.

“Knowing that this decision will be applauded by some and met with disappointment by others, I would ask all of us to respect each other’s choices, and to proactively encourage our children to do the same.,” said John Phelan, Belmont’s Superintendent of Schools, in an email sent out to parents minutes after the Select Board vote.

The Health Board pointed to reduced transmission rates, high vaccination status and wider availability of testing as the main reasons for lifting the requirement. The Health Department’s Lindsey Sharp kicked off its Zoom presentation before more than 60 residents highlighting recent Covid-related data showing Belmont and Middlesex country now in a post-surge environment.

Vaccination rates by class in Belmont public schools

Sharp said Belmont’s average positivity rate for the first week in March at one percent, a significant reduction from the 6.4 percent rate during the surge in December and January while the pooled positivity rate in Belmont schools plummet from 15.3 percent in the second week of January to 2.5 percent one month later. Resident vaccination rates in Belmont increased from 55 percent in October 2021 to 83 percent in February with students hovering at 90 percent for middle and high schoolers and in the 70s for the lower grades.

“The numbers are looking great,” said Sharp.

During the public comment session, the remove-the-mandate residents said the science supported an end of the requirement.

”I clearly see that the time is right to remove the mandate,” said Patrick Whittemore.

Others, such as Nancy Snyder, said “there is no risk to keep (the mandate)” as it makes her and her friends “feel safe.”

The board members were in agreement to remove the mandate while pondering whether it should continue for children under the age of five. Rather than create confusion and noting the very low hospitalization rates, the board said it would “strongly recommend” than require masks for that group.

The board voted to “suspend” the mandate policy rather than striking it so when a time comes during another surge or a new virus emerges the board will be able to reinstate the policy quickly. In addition, the board approved an automatic reintroduction of the mask mandate if Middlesex county returns to a “high” level according to CDC guidelines.

Both the School Committee and Select Board took up the recommendations and voted to accept them. There was one change from the Select Board, rewriting the Health Board’s “automatic” reinstatement of the mask mandate to one where the Select Board would take a vote after reviewing the data, which the Health Board accepted.

Select Board, School Committee Votes Monday To End Town, Schools Mask Mandates After Teachers Union OKs Move

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After a final possible stumbling block was cleared Friday, it’s all but certain that nearly two years of mask mandates for public spaces and school venues in Belmont will end at midnight, Tuesday, March 8 as the three main town bodies responsible for the requirements will, in all likelihood, vote to vacate the measures.

“We are moving forward with the knowledge that the mask mandate will likely be ending on Tuesday,” said Belmont Superintendent John Phelan on Friday, March 4, during the “topping off” ceremony for the middle school section of the new Middle and High School.

Monday’s busy schedule will include:

  • The Board of Health has scheduled at 4:30 p.m. a review, discussion and “possible vote” on face covering mandate in town followed immediately by a similar vote on school mask requirements at 4:40 p.m.
  • The Belmont School Committee will then assemble for a special meeting to discuss any recommendation and then vote on its mask policy at 6 p.m.
  • Finally, the Select Board, in a joint meeting with the Board of Health at 7 p.m., will meet to vote on lifting the town’s mask mandate followed by a vote to reinstate in-person meetings for town boards, commissions and committees.

Belmont’s move to lift its mandates come as government health agencies and many states and municipalities across the country have removed their mask requirements as infection rates due to Covid have fallen while vaccination rates have steadily risen.

Under the new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued on Friday, March 4, residents in counties where the community risk determined through a metrics including hospital capacity levels, new cases and hospitalizations is considered “low” residents can do away with masks. Middlesex county, where Belmont is located, is like 90 percent of US counties which are classified as “low.”

This past week, Belmont has seen some of the lowest infection rates since the beginning of the coronavirus in March, 2020. In addition, residential vaccination rates are over 80 percent and 9 our of 10 students are vaccinated in the higher grades.

While Belmont will likely remove the mask mandates on Monday, the action is not coming as a surprise. In the first week of March, the Health Board began reviewing the data used to justify imposing the mask requirement with both the school committee and select board expressing confidence the mandate would be removed.

In fact, the Health Board had called for an “emergency” meeting on Monday Feb. 28 – the day Gov. Baker’s ended the state requirement for masks in school – take a vote on the mandate’s future. But just as quickly as the notice was posted, the meeting was cancelled as it was determined by town officials not to have met the criteria for an “emergency” and thus would violate the state’s 48-hour notice requirement for government meetings.

As the town was moving towards a vote, the school district began working with the Belmont Education Association to prepare for a future mask transition as required by a joint Memorandum of Agreement on Covid-19 protection measure with the existing contract.

After meeting with the School Committee and representatives of the school district on Wednesday, March 2, BEA members two days later approved in near unanimity – there was a single ‘no’ of the more than 70 Unit A members voting – to accept the MOA change. Under the new agreement, educators will not be punished for continuing to wear a mask or seek to keep a safe distance between them and students to lessen possible infection.

Town-Wide Covid Vaccination Clinic At Beth El Temple Monday, Feb. 28

Photo: Covid vaccine clinic in Belmont on Monday, Feb. 28

The Belmont Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents, including first, second and booster shots on Monday, Feb. 28 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Beth El Temple Center, 2 Concord Ave.

Register for a vaccine appointment HERE.

Please present insurance cards, photo ID, and vaccination cards at appointment.

This clinic will be operated through a partnership between VaxinateRX and the Belmont Health Department. The Pfizer vaccine will be available.

Having difficulty registering? Call 617-993-2720 or Email: Lsharp@belmont-ma.gov for assistance

Maskless in March? Belmont Health Board Moving Towards Recommending Lifting Town, Schools Mask Mandate Next Month

Photo: This sign could be obsolete in March.

With nationwide positive rates of Covid-19 infection are falling as quickly as they skyrocketed two months ago, the Belmont Board of Health declared it will take a vote on lifting the town-wide and school mask mandate in the next month.

“That’s our intent,” Board of Health Chair Donna David said affirming the board’s decision. “We see masking coming to our March meeting” after the board appeared ready to change how it will determine the green light for ending the mandate.

When David asked the town’s Health Department Director Wesley Chin if he will provide a heads up to Belmont Superintendent John Phelan to prepare for a possible lifting of the school mandate put in place when students came back to class in March 2021, an unknown resident who had not muted themselves after speaking earlier, spouted out “Yes! Yes!”

The Board of Health has sole responsibility on imposing and ending mask mandates in public schools; the Select Board will take the Health Board’s recommendation into consideration whether to move on cancelling the mandate for businesses, town buildings and other public locations.

Starting the portion of the meeting, David proclaimed “Let’s talk about masks, Wesley” who said his office has been receiving “a number of calls” on the subject.

The Health Board’s “update” comes as states and municipalities across the country have suddenly begun dismantling mandates and other preventive measures.

Health Agent Lindsey Sharp told the board the latest Covid infection data is showing “a definite down swing” in the past month as the number of positive cases has fallen from more than 200 a week two months ago to 156 last week and 86 for the current seven days while 80 percent of those infected have been vaccinated.

But while saying the “numbers are better, we’re not there yet,” said Chin, stating he would not recommend voting Monday to take down the mask mandate as February vacation week is about to occur and Chin wanted to see the numbers of infections. He also noted that there has not been a vaccine approved for the youngest residents under the age of five.

The meeting witnessed a coordinated group of residents whose mission was to press the point that requiring masks indoors in buildings and the six town schools had passed its expiration date. Pat Whittemore, who said his opinions on masks “are very well known” claimed children with positive cases are not likely to be hospitalized when infected with Covid. He advocated “a nice middle step” of making mask wearing voluntary in schools.

John Link said mask wearing is not effective for children as “kids have zero chance to die” when they catch the coronavirus. He also said mask wearing by children can potentially lose 10 points from their IQ. Rather than an “onerous regime of wearing masks,” he also believes masks should be up to the discretion of the parents. In the same vein, David McLaughlin said there is a greater danger for children to be masked than being stricken by the Covid Omnicron variant. (Board member Adrienne Allen noted approximately 800 pediatric deaths in the US have been caused by Covid “so it’s not trivial.”)

Other residents was concerned about the town mandating vaccine passports (the Health Board and Select Board have not considered a vote on these regulations currently used in Boston) while other pointed to the high rate of student vaccination – in the higher grades up to 90 percent – as being enough to deter Covid’s debilitation effects.

Some residents wanted to take a slower approach on ending the mask mandate. “Thank you for following the science,” said Marina Atlas who felt really confident by the board’s appropriate use of data that show that masks work on Covid and other air pollutants.

It soon became clear that the board would not take action at its meeting but “we should consider another few weeks” after the February break to review the Covid data in Middlesex country.

“But [mandates are] not going on forever,” said David, who suggested taking a vote at the board’s next meeting in a month’s time.

“I agree this is not forever, as long as [the data] improves,” said Allen. Member Julie Lemay suggested the board change the data rubric for ending the mandate from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates and rely on one which uses number of hospitalizations to cases as a possible standard.

”I like that,” said David.

Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic On Monday, Feb. 7 At Beth El Temple Center

Photo: The vaccine clinic will take place on Monday.

Belmont Health Department and VaxinateRX is holding a Covid-19 vaccine clinic on Monday, Feb. 7 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Beth El Temple Center, 2 Concord Ave. The clinic includes Pfizer 1st, 2nd, and booster shots.

• Individuals 5 to 11 years old can sign up to receive their 1st or 2nd dose of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine.
• Individuals 12+ can sign up to receive their 1st, 2nd or booster* dose of the adult Pfizer vaccine.
*As long as it has been 5+ months since their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer, or 2+ months.

Register for a vaccine appointment at https://www.appointmentquest.com/scheduler/2180061935? schedule=belmontvaccineclinic If you have difficulty with registration, call Belmont Health Department at 617-993-2720 or email Lsharp@belmont-ma.gov for assistance.

Present insurance cards, photo ID, and vaccination cards at the appointment.