Officials respond to state’s controversial move to pull local vaccines
Many state legislators and local officials have expressed frustration with the slow vaccine roll-out and Governor Charlie Baker’s plan to prioritize mass vaccination sites.
As Southcoast Health and other healthcare groups have received new supplies of vaccine, it is unclear whether that decision has changed, or what Baker’s plan is for the coming weeks and months.
“It’s frustrating, and I understand in particular how frustrated a lot of local communities are,” Sen. Marc Pacheco said. “But what they’re trying to do is trying to maximize the amount of vaccine the state has and get it done as quickly as possible.”
Pacheco said that he is working with the state to bring vaccines to populations that may be more vulnerable and have a harder time accessing the vaccine. Wareham will likely be among the towns targeted through that outreach.
“We need to get as many people vaccinated as possible, as quickly as possible, with the allotments we’re getting, and not have them wasted at all,” Pacheco said. “That is extremely important.”
Pacheco said that with the increase in vaccine production and the likely approval of a Johnson and Johnson vaccine, supply should soon expand. And by July, President Joe Biden has said he hopes to have enough vaccines available for the entire population.
Wareham Selectman Alan Slavin criticized the state’s decision to prioritize state-run clinics, saying he thought it was “a terrible decision.”
On behalf of the Board of Selectmen, Peter Teitelbaum penned a letter to Governor Charlie Baker on Feb. 17 protesting his decision.
“We understand that the pandemic has been challenging for your Administration and that there are no easy answers; however, these recent decisions are hasty, confusing and have made it more difficult for our residents to obtain this life-saving resource,” Teitelbaum wrote.
A state-run mass vaccine site at an old Circuit City store in Dartmouth will be run by Curative Inc., a Los Angeles-based company launched in January 2020 to develop a new sepsis test, but which pivoted to Covid testing in March last year.
Local leaders have expressed doubts about the Dartmouth site, which is in the rear of one of several connected strip malls on Rte. 6.
“This site’s awful,” Dartmouth Health Director Chris Michaud said. “Our police department has expressed concern about the traffic patterns in there, with an added 2,000 vehicle trips per day.”
Curative is already running mass vaccine clinics in Springfield and Danvers, both of which ran into organizational issues earlier this month. In Springfield, senior citizens were left waiting in long lines outdoors in the cold, reportedly resulting in the National Guard being called in to help. At the Danvers clinic, disorganization regarding extra doses reportedly left some with appointments unvaccinated while others without appointments reportedly received the vaccine.
For more detailed information about the sign-up process to receive a vaccine from Southcoast, go to www.southcoast.org/covid-vaccine.
Those eligible for the vaccine can find appointments at other providers around the state using the state’s website www.mass.gov/CovidVaccineMap.