BOSTON — As the state lifted COVID-19 restrictions Monday, Governor Charlie Baker announced an expansion of COVID-19 vaccination sites and updates on Phase Two of the plan.
In a Monday afternoon press conference, Baker announced an expansion to vaccination sites in the state.
The COVID-19 Response Command Center partnered with health care providers, pharmacies and local officials to set up additional sites with a focus on accessibility and equity.
The state plans to have 103 vaccination sites available to the public this week. With those public sites combined with private sites at health care facilities and congregate care settings, the state has the capacity to administer 242,000 doses of the vaccine per week.
By mid-February, the administration expects there to be 165 public vaccination sites giving the state the capacity to administer 305,000 vaccines per week. They also plan to have five of seven mass vaccination sites in operation by then.
In a press release, the Baker administration noted that the state’s capacity to vaccinate is not the same as the number of shots administered and that vaccine capacity is determined by the state’s plan.
The actual number of vaccinations administered to residents depends on the availability of doses from the federal government.
State health officials say the feds are now giving them more control over where they send vaccines. Up until now, for the Federal Pharmacy Program used to vaccinate long-term care facilities; the state was forced to send the first dose allotment and then that same number of doses for the second dose allotment. But not everyone was accepting the vaccine so doses sat in limbo.
“I think, in the beginning, people were enthusiastic about vaccines and anticipated an amount that turned out not to match what the acceptance rate was,” said Health & Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
Now the state will give 10 days from the time received to administer the doses and, if they don’t, the state will re-direct the supplies.
In addition to Fenway and Gillette, Gov. Baker announced that three new mass vaccination sites will be opened:
- The Springfield site at Eastfield Mall will open on January 29.
- The Danvers site at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel will open on February 3.
- In collaboration with the City of Boston, a site at the Reggie Lewis Center will open the first week of February.
While many of the sites are open to all eligible individuals, some sites will be operated by local communities specifically for the residents in their community or region.
You can find a vaccine clinic near you on the state COVID-19 vaccine map. Sudders said the state is teaming up with 52 community health centers across the state.
“It is our expectation that retail pharmacy locations must prioritize Chelsea, Revere, Mattapan, Dorchester [and] Roxbury,” Sudders said.
Mass. League of Community Health Centers President and CEO Michael Curry was at the governor’s COVID-19 briefing and discussed their efforts to get hard-hit communities of color vaccinated.
“Health centers historically have been primary vaccinators in the communities they serve, and they have played a front-line role in fighting COVID-19,” Curry said.
Phase Two of the state’s vaccine distribution plan will begin on February 1. Individuals who are 75 and older will now be the first priority group in the phase.
People who are 65 and older and individuals with two or more comorbidities will now be the second priority group.
The new order for Phase 2 will now be:
- Individuals 75+
- Individuals 65+ or with 2+ comorbidities
- Early education and K-12 workers, transit, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, and public health workers
- Individuals with one comorbidity
All people in Phase One priority groups are now eligible for vaccinations including health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, residents and staff of congregate-care facilities, home health care workers and non-COVID-facing health care workers, and first responders.
Boston 25 News also learned Monday that a lot of the categories in the next phase are relying on the honor system. For example, when you go on to make your appointment and you have the one or two medical conditions that make you eligible, you don’t have to necessarily show any proof.
The governor also said the rollout in Massachusetts may seem slower because of the populations they targeted first.
“I get the fact [that] by choosing a number of very targeted communities and populations that we thought we should start with, that would create a slower rollout and a slower ramp-up than if you just took big groups by age and said, ‘go,’” Gov. Baker said.
For more information about the state’s vaccination plan, click here.
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