Baker outlines final stages of vaccine rollout

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Christian M. Wade |, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
·3 min read
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Mar. 17—BOSTON — Nearly one million people in Massachusetts are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the elderly, first-responders and other high-risk groups among the first to get their shots. The rest of the state won't have to wait much longer.

On Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker outlined a timeline and details of plans to vaccinate other adults and some teenagers.

Beginning March 22, residents 60 years and older and "essential workers," such as transit, sanitation and grocery employees, will be eligible to get vaccinated.

Two weeks later, on April 5, residents 55 and older and those with one underlying health risk become eligible.

The general public — ages 16 years and older — will be eligible beginning April 19, Baker said.

"There is a very strong and important correlation between COVID and age, and we believe that adding these groups by age will help us vaccine more of our most vulnerable populations faster," Baker said during a live-streamed briefing."We know that the anxiety that's created by this process can be stressful for many people, and we hope this clarity will help everybody plan ahead and know what to expect and when."

The new timeline is similar to one the Baker administration released in December, but it clarifies that residents 16 and older will be eligible to receive the vaccines.

Baker cautioned that vaccine supplies are still constrained by a lack of shipments from the federal government. That means even if a person is eligible to get vaccinated, they may not be able to schedule an appointment immediately.

"I know everyone is anxious about this, but it's important to note that everyone who wants a vaccine will eventually get one," Baker said Wednesday.

Currently, Massachusetts is in Phase 2 of its multi-phase COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Those eligible to be vaccinated are age 75 or older, nursing home residents and people 65 or older with at least two qualifying medical conditions, as well as child care workers and K-12 educators and school staff members.

The state has opened more than 100 vaccination centers, including large-scale sites at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Danvers and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

Despite setbacks with the initial rollout, Massachusetts is getting more vaccine shots into arms and is now first among the 25 states in the country with more than 5 million residents for administering doses of the drugs.

More than 2.6 million doses have been administered as of Tuesday, with nearly one million people fully vaccinated.

The state has about 6.9 million residents.

The Baker administration also created a pre-registration website for the mass vaccination sites to help speed up the process and provide more certainty.

Massachusetts public health officials reported 1,018 new confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday, and 16 more deaths. The state has reported more than 570,000 infections and at least 16,355 deaths since the outbreak began last year.

For more information: www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group's newspapers and websites. Email him at cwade@cnhi.com