Marking another pandemic milestone, Island Health Care, the federally qualified community health center in Edgartown, began vaccinating its front line health care workers Wednesday afternoon.

IHC said it had received its first shipment of 100 doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccines Tuesday, and by early Wednesday afternoon vaccinations had begun.

TestMV site manager Owen Burns was the first employee to receive the vaccine. Overall, five TestMV staff and volunteers, two clinic nurses, a community health worker, and two other front line staff members were vaccinated. Another 10 are in line to receive vaccines on Christmas Eve, IHC executive director Cynthia Mitchell said in an email to the Gazette.

Some 71 staff and volunteers have been offered the vaccine, with most expected to take it, she also said.

“As this bit of light in the tunnel broke through, the mood at the health center was jubilant,” Ms. Mitchell said.

The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose program, separated by at least 28 days.

Meanwhile, figures from the Island boards of health covering the long Christmas weekend showed a slowing of confirmed cases of Covid-10 on the Island after a post-
Thanksgiving bump. For the five days ending Monday, Dec. 28, there were a total of 20 new confirmed cases on the Island, plus three new probable cases.

The new infections bring to 501 the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the Island since the outbreak began. There have been 34 more probable cases, diagnosed either by the presence of antibodies or by symptoms.

In an expanded report issued Saturday, Tisbury health agent Maura Valley said 203 cases, or 41 per cent, are connected to at least one other case. Most connections are within families or small social groups. A bible study cluster first reported two weeks ago now includes 11 people, the report also said.

As of Saturday there were 37 cases being actively followed on the Island, down from 54 the previous week. The boards of health update the active case numbers once a week, usually on Fridays.

In a briefing last week, Gov. Charlie Baker urged continued vigilance through the holiday season.

“Massachusetts and many states across the country are obviously in the midst of a pretty significant second surge of Covid, and we know folks are worn out by this and are looking forward to the holidays,” he said. “But we can’t let it up when it comes to continuing to fight this virus.”

As the federal coronavirus relief bill remained as yet unsigned by the president, the governor also announced a state $668 million small business relief fund. Restaurants, retailers and other small enterprises that have been hardest hit by the pandemic could begin receiving grants of up to $75,000 as early as next week, he said.

The fund, to be administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Relief Corp, is in addition to state money already committed to coronavirus relief. Priority will be given to eligible businesses that have previously applied, but have not yet received state relief, the governor said.

Updated with new case figures from the long Christmas weekend.