Immunization Planning, Restaurant Rating System Discussed

            Speaking to the issue of providing COVID-19 immunization, public health nurses Amanda Stone and Emily Field said distribution systems are not yet in place. This and other pandemic-related matters were discussed when the Mattapoisett Board of Health met on September 30.

            Stone said that it’s unclear at this time what the process and structure will be for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and that it now appears that a vaccine for everyone, not just essential workers, is a year away. She also said that health officials are talking about a series of two inoculations, not just one, to guard against this viral infection. When asked how a two-dose system would be monitored, she replied, “A tracking system is not in place yet.”

            Stone went on to explain that the common flu strains for which vaccines have been developed now number nine different varieties. “There’s education, there’s paperwork (and) it’s a huge undertaking that takes away from other services. That’s why we elected to partner with the Southcoast Wellness Van,” she said. “Viruses mutate, which makes it hard to get immunity.” Stone said this impacts high-risk people with health issues.

            Regarding school-age children, the nurses said that all students attending school will be required to have a flu shot by the end of the calendar year. She said she had been working in close collaboration with school nurses.

            When the topic shifted to the general public’s cooperation in wearing masks and exercising social distancing, Board of Health Agent Kayla Davis said that her office had a few complaints over the past two months but that most people were complying.

            Field commented, “It’s good that people are taking an interest and complaining.”

            On another matter, Davis said that the Board of Selectmen had asked her to look into a Food Grading System that would rate restaurants and other food-related venues using letter grades to indicate compliance. That grade would then be posted in the front of the restaurant for public notification. Grading systems award an “A” for those establishments that are clean and up to code, “B” representing a clean establishment with minor violations, and “C” possible shuttering of the business until standards are met.

            BOH member Ken Dawicki spoke strongly against implementing such a grading system in Mattapoisett. “I don’t agree. If you don’t get an ‘A,’ do you try again?” He said that businesses currently have what he termed “enough stumbling blocks” and that “this is very subjective depending on who the inspector is.” Davis reiterated that the selectmen wanted the subject reviewed. “I’ve been in the food industry for almost 50 years,” Dawicki stated. “There are enough hurdles now.” The topic was tabled for further discussion at a later date.

            Discussion turned to the Transfer Station with Davis advising the board that the state will no longer allow cities and towns to burn brush piles. The news elicited a nearly unanimous reaction of “What do we do now?” from the members.

            Board members discussed renting and or purchasing a grinder to turn brush into mulch and speculated about costs associated with brush dumping at the Transfer Station. They wondered aloud whether the majority of brush coming from commercial entities was actually from Mattapoisett properties and how and when they might implement increases from the current $5 fee that residents pay per load and the $10 fee for each commercial load. Davis was asked to look into grinder rental costs for their next meeting.

            Increases in perk-testing fees were also briefly commented on, as was denitrification technology now required in new septic installations in Marion. Chairman Carmelo Nicolosi asked to study this in greater detail. “This is new technology we should take advantage of,” he said.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Health was not set at adjournment.

Mattapoisett Board of Health

By Marilou Newell

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