Mass. Launches New Site To Access Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Records

The Baker-Polito administration on Monday announced a tool that gives residents a new way to access their COVID-19 digital vaccine card and vaccination history. The new tool, called My Vax Records, allows people who received their vaccination in Massachusetts to access their own vaccination history and generate a COVID-19 digital vaccine card, which would contain similar vaccination information to a paper CDC card. The COVID-19 digital vaccine cards produced by the system utilize the SMART Health Card platform and generate a QR code that can be used to verify vaccination.
The administration is not requiring residents to show proof of vaccination to enter any venue, but this tool will help residents who would like to access and produce a digital copy of their record.
Access the new tool at MyVaxRecords.Mass.Gov.
 
How It Works: The new tool is easy to use: a person enters their name, date of birth, and mobile phone number or email associated with their vaccine record. After creating a 4-digit PIN, the user receives a link to their vaccine record that will open upon re-entry of the PIN.
The electronic record shows the same information as a paper CDC vaccine card: name, date of birth, date of vaccinations, and vaccine manufacturer. It also includes a QR code that makes these same details readable by a QR scanner, including smartphone apps. Once the SMART Health Card is received, users are able to save the QR code to their phone, such as the Apple Wallet, screenshot the information and save it to their phone’s photos, or print out a copy for a paper record. The system follows national standards for security and privacy.
This system provides an optional way that residents can access their vaccination information and a COVID-19 digital vaccine card. This will provide residents with another tool to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, should it be requested by businesses, local governments, or other entities.
The system leverages the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS), the official database used by health care providers across the state to record vaccination information. The system relies on hundreds of providers inputting demographic and health information. Some users may not be able to immediately find their record, or may find an incomplete record. Residents whose record cannot be found or is incomplete can either contact their health care provider or contact the MIIS team to update their records. Learn more about the tool and view frequently-asked-questions at www.mass.gov/myvaxrecord.
Massachusetts has worked with VCI,™ a voluntary coalition of public and private organizations which developed the open-source SMART Health Card Framework in use by other states. The VCI coalition is dedicated to improving privacy and security of patient information, making medical records portable and reducing healthcare fraud.
My Vax Records is just one way residents can obtain their COVID vaccination record. Pharmacies that administered the COVID vaccine and many health care providers also are making SMART Health Cards available, or are providing additional options. Learn more.

Housing Authority Offering $500 Reward For Info Leading To Arrest After 9 Vehicles Vandalized

The Quincy Housing Authority is offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest for the vandalism of nine state-owned vehicles.

“This is a horrible and senseless act,” said Quincy Housing Authority Executive Director James Marathas. “We are dealing with over 10 staff members fighting COVID 19, trying to service over 5,000 residents and doing so with enough obstacles. These trucks that were vandalized are the same trucks and tools that service our residents.

“I am disgusted to say the least. I want the person or persons responsible held accountable and punished appropriately. I am thankful for the quick response from the City of Quincy’s Police Department,” Marathas added.

The vehicles were parked at the QHA maintenance shop, 15 Bicknell St. It happened early Thursday morning between 2 and 5 a.m., Marathas said, who also noted that other cars in the Snug Harbor area were also broken into.

Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to contact the Quincy Police Department.

Below are photos provided by the Quincy Housing Authority showing some of the vandalized vehicles.

Online Program On Heat Pumps Jan. 19

Quincy Climate Action Network, Massachusetts Green Energy Consumers Alliance and Quincy Asian Resources, Inc. will host a program focusing on heat pumps later this month.

The program will be held virtually on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.

Have you heard about heat pumps? Heat pumps transfer heat from your living space to the outside or from the outside into the living space, depending on whether the goal is heating or cooling. The process of transferring existing heat is more efficient than generating heat.

Experts from Quincy Climate Action Network (QCAN), Massachusetts Green Energy Consumers Alliance, and Mass Save program implementer ICF will explain the different types of heat pumps, discuss real-world costs of installation and operation (including newly revised incentive programs for 2022), the practical pros and cons, and how green energy sourcing can ensure your home is heated and cooled with 100% renewable energy.

A Quincy resident who recently installed a heat pump will also be there to answer practical questions from a homeowner’s perspective.

Learn all about these super-efficient heating and cooling devices, and whether they make sense for your home.

To attend the free online Heat Pumps 101 event, use Zoom (meeting ID 872 8068 5757) or call in (646-558-8656) and use the same meeting ID to listen to the audio. You may also view the program live on the Thomas Crane Public Library YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/ThomasCranePublicLibrary).

To get a reminder with the Zoom link the day before, RSVP at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heat-pumps-101-tickets-234020560797

Email info@QuincyCAN.org if you would like to request a Mandarin or Cantonese translator for the event. Those who have any concerns about accessing or attending the virtual event online should email info@QuincyCAN.org.

Quincy Attorney Represents His 50th Lottery Winner

Attorney David Spillane of Quincy, Trustee of the Tommy D Nominee Trust, collecting winnings for a $10 Million winner on New Year’s Eve at Massachusetts Lottery Headquarters in Dorchester sporting a New Year’s tie. Courtesy Photo

Folks wonder how David Spillane can be so lucky. A thorough review of the Massachusetts State Lottery website will show Spillane cashing major prize winnings at the Lottery an amazing Fifty times! It’s because Spillane, an attorney who practices in Quincy and Hanover, represents winners of the Lottery who wish to remain anonymous.

“People keep asking me, ‘How can you be so lucky?’” Spillane mused. He always shares the “secret of success” with a whisper in the ear: “Buy a ticket!”

Spillane spent part of New Year’s Eve collecting a $10 Million prize for a scratch ticket winner who then had the greatest New Year’s Celebration of his life. That was Spillane’s fiftieth time going to the lottery for his lucky clients since he started doing it back in 2015. He breaks his own record with each new Lottery client.

His first Lottery client was referred by a friend, who was speaking with a North Shore minister who won a $1,000,000 Lottery prize on a scratch ticket, but who did not want his parishioners to know he won. It was not so much that he was worried about them wanting to borrow money from him, but more so because gambling is against his religion. He didn’t want them to know he was breaking a rule he preaches.

“I have had three multi-major prize winners who won twice each, and one who won three times! All of them are still scratching, hoping that lightning will continue to strike,” said Spillane, who lives in Quincy. Winners have included two doctors and an Ivy League professor, as well as others from all walks of life. “I’ve had four winners from out of state, one who lives one block from my son’s apartment in New York and who coincidentally grew up a few blocks from my childhood home in Dorchester.” Small world.

Several people told no one that they were lottery winners, except for Spillane. One couple from Worcester who won $1,000,000 said they weren’t telling their children, so Spillane asked them if it was going to change their lifestyle, which would have been a giveaway to their kids. “They told me that they were contemplating purchasing a vacation home in the mountains, and that they would simply buy a little nicer home with a little smaller mortgage,” Spillane explained. “I asked them if they would invite me to the cookout when they were going to tell their children so I could see the looks on their faces.”

Spillane’s Lottery clients are typically $1,000,000 winners, but he has had one $15,000,000 winner (a couple in their thirties with two small children), three $10,000,000 winners, and multiple $4,000,000 winners. “The lowest amount I ever collected for winners was $100,000,” Spillane said. “It was hardly worth the expense, considering the after-tax net payout, but she told me that she had a fiancé who hung around a bar, and that if he and his friends found out about the winnings, they would pressure her to share it with them. My advice to her was to shop around for a new fiancé.”

Spillane has represented winners from every corner of Massachusetts, from Chicopee to Amesbury to New Bedford. A Cape Cod winner hit for $4,000,000, and decided to take the annuity, which will pay her $200,000 per year for twenty years. It represented about five times as much per year a she had ever earned. She said she was going to retire and spend her time caring for, and spoiling, her first grandchild.

“Most people who win the Lottery and retain us to collect their winnings anonymously are not used to having large sums of money,” said Spillane. “My advice to them is always to engage the services of a financial planner and establish an estate plan. About 60% of them come back to us  to create an estate plan for them.” The majority of Spillane’s practice relates to estate planning and real estate.

A $4 Million winner from Hingham who had won the Lottery twice said he wasn’t going to tell his only child about his good luck. He plans to keep working at his family business, with his only indulgence being to purchase a new boat. He wants to give his daughter a nice surprise when he passes on.

One lucky winner from Worcester thought he had won $1,000,000 on a game called 100X CASHWORD. He had put off scratching a portion of the ticket that indicates whether there is a multiplier on the face amount. When he came into Spillane’s office, he scratched it realized to his glee that he had actually won $2,000,000.

“I always ask the client what they would like to name their trusts,” explained Spillane. “Some want to use a combination of initials, but I encourage them to have a little fun with the naming of the trust, Spillane said. “I typically suggest to name the trust after something to do with a super hero.” Other names have included a character from a movie (The latest trust was called the Tommy D Trust after Joe Pecci’s character in Goodfellas). “One couple from Framingham brought their two little girls with them to my office,” Spillane recounted, smiling, “so I suggested we call the trust the Two Cuties Trust.”

No one else in the history of the Massachusetts Lottery has collected more winnings for clients under a trust that David Spillane. In total, Spillane has collected a face value of over $100 Million for his very lucky clients.

City Plants 500 New Trees

The City’s Department of Natural Resources recently finished planting 500 new trees along Quincy streets this fall and early-winter, the mayor’s office announces.  The trees were funded by Mayor Koch through a budget appropriation approved by the City Council.  They were planted in every neighborhood in the city.

Tree species planted this year include Autumn Blaze Red Maple, Sweet Gum Happidaze, Japanese Lilac, Armstrong Red Maple, Eastern Red Bud. Snow Goose Cherry, Ginkgo Magyar, Canada Red Select Cherry, October Glory Red Maple, and Kwanzan Cherry.

The species are strategically selected to provide the greatest opportunity to survive in an urban setting.  More specifically, each and every location was analyzed and an appropriate species chosen for each specific location that considered overhead utilities, underground utilities, crown size, salt tolerance, and height.

The city will do another planting in the spring based on receiving a very competitive bid price for the 500 tree effort, according to the mayor’s office.

“Quincy’s tree-lined streets are an important part of the character of our neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Dave Murphy.  “As we continue to address the needs of our urban forest, tree replacement is a critical part of maintaining tree-lined streets and improving our local and global environments.  The value of our city’s tree-planting efforts will be enjoyed by generations to come. We are extremely appreciative of the continued support of Mayor Koch in planting new trees throughout the city.”

If you are interested in a new tree this spring, contact Mike Cassinelli at mcassinelli@quincyma.gov.

Added Murphy: “We will continue our efforts to plant as many trees as we can.  The value of shade trees cannot be overstated.  I encourage residents to get a hold of us if they would like a new tree planted in front of their home this year.”

Blood Donors Needed To Avoid Delays In Patient Care

As holiday celebrations continue, concern is rising for the nation’s blood supply, which has now dipped to concerning levels and could force hospitals to hold off on essential blood transfusions for patients.

Historically low blood supply levels not seen in more than a decade persist for the American Red Cross, which supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood. The ongoing decline comes at a time of year when donations typically fall. Holiday get-togethers, school breaks and winter weather often lead to lower donor turnout, potentially further compounding the situation.

Potential donors are urged to schedule an appointment now by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). If there is not an immediate opportunity available to donate, donors are asked to make an appointment in the days and weeks ahead to ensure the Red Cross can replenish and then maintain a sufficient blood supply.

In thanks, all who come to give through Jan. 2 will receive an exclusive Red Cross long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last.

Those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma in January will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. As an extra thank-you from the Red Cross, those who come to donate in January will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

Blood drive safety

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive.

Save time during donation

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

Health insights for donors

At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease who require trait-negative blood. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.

Donors can expect to receive sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Quincy Police Say They Found Man Accused Of Approaching Women In Parking Lots

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy police on Tuesday said they had found the man accused of approaching women in area parking lots and trying to lure them from their vehicles.

The department said they received a call from a female around 9 a.m. on Tuesday who stated a male approached her vehicle and told her it was leaking oil. The female immediately contacted police, the department said, and provided a description of the man’s vehicle, a white Jeep Patriot.

Police said they were able to locate the vehicle in Quincy. Detectives then interviewed the driver who was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

The department said further information on the man was not available as no arrests had been made as of Tuesday afternoon.

“While we are confident this is the suspect from previously reported incidents, our detectives continue to investigate,” the department said on Facebook. “We encourage everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behavior.”

On Sunday, state Rep. Alyson Sullivan of Abington said a man approached her that evening in the parking lot of a Target store in Stoughton. The man tried to coax her out of her vehicle by claiming it had an oil leak, Sullivan said; she later checked her car when it was safe to do so and it did not have an oil leak. That incident was reported to the Stoughton Police Department.

Stoughton police on Monday confirmed Sullivan’s report and said it was the second such incident to take place in the town within a two-week span. The department said similar incidents, all involving a white Jeep Patriot, had been reported in other nearby communities as well.

Stoughton police on Tuesday confirmed the man found by Quincy police was the same person involved in the incident at the town’s Target.

Indoor Masking Now Recommended For All Mass. Residents; Baker Activates National Guard

Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced additional measures — including an updated mask advisory and activation of the National Guard — to address a recent rise in COVID-19 cases and to ensure acute care hospitals have sufficient capacity to care for both COVID and non-COVID patients.
The state’s healthcare system is facing a critical staffing shortage which has contributed to the loss of approximately 500 medical/surgical and ICU hospital beds since the beginning of the year, state officials said. Hospitals are also seeing a high level of patients, many due to non-COVID related reasons.
Residents are reminded that getting a vaccine and booster remain the best way to protect against serious illness or hospitalization from COVID. The Department of Public Health on Monday released updated COVID breakthrough data this week showing that 97 percent of COVID breakthrough cases in Massachusetts have not resulted in hospitalization or death. Unvaccinated individuals are five times more likely to contract COVID than fully vaccinated individuals and 31 times more likely to contract COVID than individuals who have a booster.
Massachusetts is a national leader in COVID-19 vaccinations, with over 94 percent of eligible residents having received at least one dose. Over 89 percent of the entire Massachusetts population has at least one dose, and 74 percent of the entire population is fully vaccinated. Massachusetts also leads the nation in vaccinating communities of color, with 68 percent of all black residents and 67 percent of all Hispanic residents receiving at least one dose, compared to 42.0 percent of black residents and 51.7 percent of Hispanic residents nationally.
National Guard Activation
Baker on Tuesday will activate up to 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to address the non-clinical support needs of hospitals and transport systems. Up to 300 of these Guard members will begin training this week and will support 55 acute care hospitals, as well as 12 ambulance service providers across the state.
The DPH surveyed all hospitals and ambulance service providers, and in concert with the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, has identified five key roles that non-clinical Guard personnel can serve in support hospital operations for up to 90 days:
  • Non-emergency transport between facilities: driving ambulances used to transfer patients between two healthcare locations such as when patients are discharged from a hospital and transferred to a long term care facility.
  • Patient observers: providing continuous or frequent observation of a patient who is at risk for harm to themselves.
  • Security support: helping to maintain a safe workplace.
  • In-hospital transport: bringing patients via wheelchair or, if needed, stretcher, from their patient room to tests such as x-ray or CT scan, or from the emergency department to their inpatient floor.
  • Food service/tray delivery support: delivering patient meals to their rooms
Guard personnel will be deployed to the field beginning December 27th, 2021.
Elective Surgery Guidance
The DPH released updated guidance to hospitals concerning nonessential, elective invasive procedures. To preserve health care personnel resources, effective 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 27, all hospitals are directed to postpone or cancel all nonessential elective procedures likely to result in inpatient admission in order to maintain and increase inpatient capacity.
Patients are reminded to still seek necessary care at their hospital or from their health care provider.
To read the guidance, click here.
Mask Advisory
The DPH released an updated mask advisory on Tuesday, recommending that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask or face covering in indoor, public spaces.
The department particularly urges this recommendation for individuals who have a weakened immune system, or are at increased risk for severe disease because of age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in their household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.
All people in Massachusetts (regardless of vaccination status) are required to continue wearing face coverings in certain settings, including transportation and health care facilities.  Please see here for a complete list of venues where face coverings have remained mandatory since May 29, 2021.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s current mask requirement and Policy on Vaccination Rate Threshold issued on Sept. 27  is not impacted by this advisory.
To read the full advisory, visit: here.

Nearly 97% Of Vaccinated Bay State Residents Who Contracted COVID-19 Avoided Hospitalization, Death

Nearly 97 percent of Massachusetts residents who contracted COVID-19 after they were fully vaccinated avoided hospitalization or death, the state’s Department of Public Health announced Monday following a review of breakthrough cases.
Additionally, the review found unvaccinated residents are five times more likely to become infected than fully vaccinated residents (defined as those who have received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and unvaccinated residents are 31 times more likely to become infected than fully vaccinated residents who have received a booster.
The review also found that 99.9 percent of breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated people under the age of 60 did not result in death. Among the breakthrough cases for residents over the age of 60, 97 percent did not result in death. No deaths have been reported in breakthrough cases among those under age 30.
“The data are clear. This review shows that fully vaccinated people in Massachusetts have near-universal protection from severe illness and death and that boosters are demonstrating even stronger protection from COVID,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Amid the season of gathering indoors and the emerging omicron variant, the time to get vaccinated and boosted is now. It is the best gift of protection for yourself and your loved ones.”
“Vaccination continues to be the most effective tool we have against omicron and all COVID-19 variants,” said Acting DPH Commissioner Margret Cooke. “The data indicates that fully vaccinated and boosted individuals are well protected from severe outcomes of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death, and the Department of Public Health strongly urges all residents to get vaccinated and, when appropriate, get a booster.”