25 Investigates: MA’s shift to prioritize mass vaccination sites means fewer doses available to local communities

BOSTON — Frustration is growing in cities and towns across Massachusetts as local first responders say they’re prepared to vaccinate their residents but sufficient vaccine supply is just not coming in.

Anchor and investigative reporter Kerry Kavanaugh learned that the state’s prioritization of mass vaccination sites comes at a cost to local communities.

Dr. Dan Muse is an emergency physician at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, who has served as the medical director for some local emergency medical services during the pandemic.

“Huge amount of frustration and part of it there is no vested interest here except to help their communities,” said Muse.

Emergency medical teams and state lawmakers say they are not opposed to mass vaccination but want better options and enough doses for residents, particularly elderly or homebound individuals who may have trouble getting to one of the larger sites.

“Some of the [fire] departments have received over 900 vaccines and then had them taken away, and other departments are getting a hundred and they’re making due and others are getting none,” added Dr. Muse.

He is working with 16 South Shore towns that have combined resources to host vaccination clinics and, he says, mass inoculation sites, like Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park, are limited to what local collaborative can do.

“Using the mass vaccination sites is one part of the solution. But you have over 10,000 medics both public and private who can provide vaccinations in their town. So please tell me why you don’t want to use them?” questioned Dr. Muse.

On Wednesday, Governor Baker expressed support for using mass vaccination sites, calling them efficient.

“If you look at the performance across the country, the states that have done the best at getting shots into people’s arms are the states that the big sites,” said Baker. “They are by far the most productive operating model.”

The governor also added that town collaboratives are still necessary for people who don’t live near a mass site. But, that did little to eases Scott Gilroy’s concerns. Gilroy is the chairman of Rutland’s Board of Health and is leading a vaccine collaborative for dozens of towns in Central Massachusetts.

“Every time we put in an order we seem to get cut a little bit,” he said. “At some point, it’s going to run into a course where we either can’t take care of our townsfolks or we’re going to have to short some of our partnering towns.”

The collaboratives 25 Investigates heard from say they will continue to step up, but need consistency from the State.

“We’re concerned that our second dose allotments won’t be available and won’t be delivered in a timely fashion for us to take care of those residents,” said Seth Knipe, Rutland Fire Chief. “Just be upfront and honest with us so we can make the plans in advance.”

Last week, the Rutland collaborative received 975 doses, down from 2,925 in prior weeks, for its 12 towns, according to Knipe.

He now worries that without enough doses for his community he may be forced to cancel vaccination clinics.

25 Investigates learned some communities are having to cancel their clinics due to insufficient doses.

The Plympton Fire Department canceled their clinic which was scheduled for Wednesday. In this memo, the fire chief explains that the department doesn’t have enough vaccine and isn’t expecting a new supply any time soon.


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