MA senators grill governor about COVID-19 vaccine rollout

BOSTON — A Senate Oversight Committee on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout questioned Gov. Charlie Baker Tuesday about the state’s distribution process.

State senators grilled the governor for more than an hour Tuesday, wondering why his focus has been on sending vaccine supply to mass vaccination sites instead of local health departments.

“I noticed that there’s increasing in mass sites, but the regional sites are still waiting for vaccines, so I got to understand this,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman, the Senate Vice Chair. “These are decisions you’re making and we don’t understand them and we are so worried about the people that are being left behind, and they are being left behind – we’re not making this up.”

Gov. Baker argued it’s simply not true, and that vaccines are going to those regional sites as well.

He says the state has been following the guidance from the federal government on how to rollout the covid-19 vaccine most efficiently, and part of that advice was to focus on those mass vaccination sites.

“As unhappy as some people may be with that decision, you know we are outperforming every other state in the country across most of the CDC’s key performance measures,” said Gov. Baker. “And I think that’s an important fact as to whether or not the choices we made were effective or not.”

Gov. Baker says the reason why they distributed the vaccine this way as opposed to following previous guidelines for vaccine distribution was because this virus and vaccine presented unique challenges.

“The extremely limited supply, the need for cold and ultra cold storage, the potential for spoilage and the 2 dose regimen were all on the ground realities that required a different playbook than the one we developed and is different than the one we would have used to battle an outbreak using a traditional or widely understood antibiotic or vaccine,” said Baker.

Gov. Baker says the process to get a vaccine has improved over the last couple weeks with the state’s new pre-registration website, and those regional sites will be getting more supply soon.

Plus, he says state leaders are focusing on ways to get the vaccine to the most vulnerable communities.

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