Baker to stop sending vaccines to local sites

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Madeline Hughes, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
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Feb. 17—ANDOVER — Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday the state will stop providing vaccines to town sites on March 1.

The end to local vaccination sites will allow the state to make larger regional sites where towns can collaborate, but the site must be able to serve 750 people a day, for five days a week.

This move is also supposed to encourage people to use larger mass vaccination sites like in Danvers, Fenway and Gillette.

Those who have already been vaccinated at local sites will be able to get their second dose there, according to local health officials.

Baker's announcement came in a Wednesday morning email to local leaders.

Andover's Director of Public Health Thomas Carbone was surprised by the news.

Andover held its first public vaccination clinic Wednesday just before Baker made his announcement. The clinic served just over 100 seniors because the town nurses were able to pull seven extra doses from the vials, ensuring nothing the state gave the town went to waste, Carbone said.

Overall people were happy they could get it locally.

Barbara and David Kelley of Andover were ecstatic to get an appointment in town at the Field House Wednesday.

"It's close, so even in bad weather we would have been able to make it," said David, 81.

"I had been trying to make an appointment, but every time I would enter my information online the appointment would be filled," said Barbara, 79. "It was absolutely wonderful we had a woman from the senior center call us and tell us who to call for an appointment in town. We were able to get a spot easier."

Carbone said the town vaccination site is particularly accessible for older adults because it's a place where they are comfortable.

"For this particular age group this is where it should be," he said standing in the high school's field house. "As we expand age groups we will need more."

"We have 1,200 people in the school department and we had the expectation we could vaccinate them here, and that's not going to happen," Carbone said. "I don't understand the thought process behind this."

The state has vaccinated about 50% of residents 75 and older, Baker said during a press conference Wednesday.

Baker also announced that people 65 and older and people with two or more comorbidities are now eligible to get the vaccine.