For a small town in New England, Bedford has racked up a lot of firsts.
Like the first annual ceremony to celebrate the first shots of the American Revolution—and the first battle flag in that fight. Or the first municipality to sign on for the state Community Preservation Act. Many people say the Marshalls in the Bedford Marketplace was the first store in the chain.
Here’s another first for Bedford: On Monday at 12:07 pm, the first patient in a US Veterans Affairs facility received the new Covid-19 vaccine.
The inoculation went to Margaret Klessens, a 96-year-old veteran of World War II, who resides in what the hospital calls its long-term care community living centers. The shot was administered by Sandra Getchell, a registered nurse.
Mrs. Klessens, a longtime resident of Charlestown and Somerville, served in the Women’s Army Corps – which was created in the1942 legislation written by U.S. Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers of Lowell, for whom the Bedford VA facilities are named.
VA Bedford Healthcare System personnel also began administering vaccinations to frontline health care employees as well as other long-term care residents on Monday.
The first employee vaccinated was Andrew Miller, a housekeeper in environmental management service.
“We’re proud to be one of the 37 initial VA sites and we’re dedicated to ensuring all veterans receiving care at VA and our employees are ultimately offered the vaccine,” said Dr. Shilpa Rungta, VA Bedford Healthcare System chief of staff. “The incredible teamwork here allowed us to go from arrival to vaccination in just a few hours while still following all safety protocols.”
Bedford was among the VA sites chosen because of their ability to vaccinate large numbers of people and to store the vaccines at extremely cold temperatures, said a hospital spokesperson. After this initial limited-supply phase there will be a general implementation phase when larger vaccine supplies are available.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763
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