AHA logoPharmacist Stephen Camelio gives a Winslow resident his Covid booster shot. / Chris Partridge photo

 Jack Nagle has Covid in his sights.

One of his first actions as the newly appointed executive director of the Arlington Housing Authority (AHA) was to coordinate on-site Covid booster clinics for the authority’s elderly and disabled residents.

For several hours on Thursday, Dec. 23, pharmacist Stephen Camelio and nurse Kristen Watkins of Theatre Pharmacy in Lexington, administered Moderna shots into the arms of residents from Cusack Terrace, Chestnut Manor, Winslow Towers and Drake Village.

“We are grateful to Keyes Drug and their staff from Theatre Pharmacy for conducting the Covid booster clinic at our senior developments,” Nagle wrote in an email to YourArlington.

Senior-housing residents received their first Covid vaccine last February, part of the four-phased state vaccine rollout. The second round of Covid vaccines was administered to residents that April.

Omicron variant raises concerns 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, immunity to Covid infection wanes over time, especially in people 65 and older, and the emergence of the Omicron variant has heightened the need to supplement the initial vaccine protocols with booster shots.

The latest variant comes at a time when the state has delegated vaccine control down to the local level, requiring housing authorities to make their own arrangements. Nagle contacted Keyes based on a referral from a state health department employee who had worked with the family-owned and-operated business in the past.

In between giving Covid shots to waiting customers, Raied “Ray” Dinno, pharmacist and co-owner of Keyes Drug, said by phone that his team had vaccinated residents at other housing authorities, including the Newton Housing Authority. 

“We are trying to assist in any way we can to vaccinate as many people as possible to overcome Covid soon, and get back to normal,” Dinno wrote in a follow-up email to YourArlington.

Vaccines and safety protocols 

In its August annual plan to the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, the authority noted “minimal amounts of known Covid cases in AHA-managed buildings,” citing the success of the previous vaccination clinics and ongoing Covid safety precautions, such as masking and social distancing in its buildings.

Nagle noted that cooperation between the town and the authority to provide Covid testing kits to residents is part of its Covid-response effort. “[The vaccine] clinics, in addition to the testing kits provided by the Town of Arlington’s Health and Human Services will be essential in our continued efforts to keep our residents and staff safe,” Nagle wrote.

Meals prepared by D'Agostino's Deli await delivery to residents. / Chris Patridge photoMeals prepared by D'Agostino's Deli await delivery to residents. / Chris Patridge photo

Students help deliver holiday cheer

On Christmas Eve, the AHA distributed hundreds of holiday meals to its residents who could select from one of four options – ziti and meatballs, a traditional turkey dinner, chicken parmesan and chicken, broccoli and ziti – followed by either an apple or blueberry pie for dessert.

The meals were prepared by D’Agostino’s Deli in Arlington Heights, and delivered to the four housing authority locations by Chris Partridge, the newly hired director of maintenance and modernization, and his staff. Menotomy Manor residents each received a $10 gift card to Stop & Shop.

Several Arlington high school students, including Tenzin Seldon and Livi Dongol, volunteered to deliver the meals to residents’ doors. “I heard from several residents that the high school students made their day,” said Hauser resident and volunteer organizer, Mariann Donovan.

Covid restrictions prevented the senior-housing tenant associations from holding their annual holiday parties, with the authority stepping up to provide much-appreciated holiday cheer.

“It’s important to acknowledge that the housing authority did this for the second year in a row,” said Donovan, adding that the restrictions can increase a sense of isolation, especially during the holidays.

“The Arlington community really showed up for us,” Donovan said. 

Dec. 22, 2021: Nagle selected as 5th director of housing authority

This news summary by YourArlington freelancer Melanie Gilbert was published Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021.