By Kristina Rex

WHITMAN (CBS) – As two promising vaccine candidates move through the FDA for emergency approval, Massachusetts towns are preparing for how they’ll distribute the likely two-dose COVID-19 vaccine when it’s time.

The towns of Whitman and Salisbury are calling on volunteers willing to help administer the vaccine once it’s time.

“We’re looking for volunteers who want to step up and be a big help,” Whitman Interim Town Administrator Lisa Green said.

“We encourage any nurse from the Town of Whitman or the surrounding area to volunteer for this important clinic,” Whitman Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Timothy Grenno said. “We do not know exactly when a vaccine will become available, but it is important to have volunteers in place to help ensure a smooth distribution process when the time comes.”

“The focus early on here and in other places in the country is going to be high risk individuals to begin with,” Governor Charlie Baker said. On Tuesday, the CDC voted to recommend the COVID-19 vaccine be first administered to health care workers, followed by nursing homes and long term care facilities.

That distribution to the first line of recipients, assuming all goes according to plan, could last through March, Baker said. It’s unlikely the general public would have access to a vaccine until after that.

Once it’s time for the public to receive a vaccine, Whitman will be ready, Fire Chief Grenno told WBZ. The town has a pandemic vaccine distribution plan in place that was developed several years ago. When it’s their turn to receive the vaccine, different districts will receive reverse 911 calls and offered the chance to sign up for a voluntary vaccine appointment.

The actual vaccine site will look very similar to the state’s current “Stop the Spread” free testing sites: a drive up clinic where volunteer medical staff administers the vaccine.

“We are putting a lot of plans in place,” Whitman town administrator Green said. “Once the vaccine does come out, we’re sure lines will be large…so we want to put the vaccine out in an organized fashion.”

Kristina Rex