BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker has unveiled the timeline for when residents who are not yet eligible can start booking vaccine appointments.
Starting March 22 - Residents 60+ along with certain workers of any age who work industries, including restaurants, farms, grocery stores and convenience stores.
Starting April 5 - Residents 55+ and residents with one specified medical condition.
Starting April 19 - Anyone over 16 in the general public
Baker’s timeline announcement follows President Joe Biden’s promise last week asking all states to make everyone eligible for shots by May.
The state just learned that it is receiving 170,000 first doses this week, including 8,000 Johnson & Johnson doses that were not expected. Doses from the federal pharmacy program and other federal programs are not included.
There are about 360,000 workers in essential industries, like grocery stores and public works employees, according to the Boston Globe, that are expected to be vaccinated before the general public. Then there are about 430,000 people with at least one chronic health issue that will go before the final 2.5 million people in the general population over the age of 16.
So far, a little over 2.6 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered. More than 1.6 million people got their first shot and just under 950,000 people have been fully vaccinated. That is still far off from the 5.7 million people in the state that are eligible to get a shot.
The state says you can pre-register for a vaccine appointment at one of the mass vaccination sites by going to mass.gov/covidvaccine.
The new timeline gives everyone a date for when they get can their vaccination. In the next 24 hours, Gov. Charlie Baker said the state will pass a million people in the state being fully vaccinated. The goal, the governor said, is about 4 million.
“You get to the point where 4 million people have been vaccinated and 560,000 people had the virus, then hopefully when you get to that point then almost everybody knows somebody who has been vaccinated, and hopefully that will convince some of the late arrivals to just do it,” the governor said.
The governor toured the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center where the national guard is helping with vaccine distribution. In the COVID-19 briefing right after, the governor said they got word from the feds on Tuesday that the vaccine supply line was ramping up considerably.
“I called other governors and said, ‘did you hear what I just heard,’ and I think for the most part many of us are really enthusiastic about where this is going,” Gov. Baker said.
Now with dates in place for everyone to be eligible for one of the three vaccines, the governor knows there is a lot of work to do in regard to battling vaccine hesitancy. The CDC just announced new funding to help states with community outreach like hosting local meetings to answer vaccination questions.
“The goal is going to be to try to convince a lot of those folks to be vaccinated,” he said.
Gov. Baker plans to keep the current vaccine distribution system in place and believes it will help generate comfort as we get deeper into the eligible groups.
“[If] people are hesitant, the best place for them to go is someplace another family member or friend, coworker, neighbor has also gone to and had a positive experience at,” the governor said.
After vaccinations, Baker admits there is an even bigger challenge ahead.
“Regroup and rebuild an economy that, for many people, has just been brutal over the past year, and to try to help those folks find a way back to the work they were doing before or find a path forward for them to work somewhere else,” he said.
The governor believes the pre-registration system will help alleviate people in these larger groups competing for appointments mainly because it works on a system of contacting people in the order of eligibility when there are actual openings.
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