BOSTON (WPRI) – Massachusetts on Friday ordered nearly 60,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and the state plans to begin distributing the first round of deliveries next week, Governor Charlie Baker said on Wednesday.
“For months we have been preparing for the safe, equitable and effective distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once it is authorized by the federal government,” he said.
Baker said the first doses will be delivered to hospitals statewide so frontline health workers can get vaccinated.
Then the next 40,000 doses will be allocated to the Federal Pharmacy Program, which will begin immunizing staff and residents of nursing homes and other assisted living facilities.
Cheryl Bartlett, CEO of Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, says it will allow care to continue for others who will be sick and hospitalized with the virus, but is concerned the amount is not enough for the entire state.
“As the level of community spread increases, healthcare workers are exposed to the positive,” Bartlett said. “There is a huge absenteeism rate which makes it very difficult to manage staffing in the delivery of health services.”
The first shipments are expected to contain vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, both of which require two doses given three to four weeks apart.
The state expects to receive about 300,000 first doses by the end of the year, according to Baker.
“Our plan is based on the emergency use clearance from the FDA for a COVID-19 vaccine, which appears imminent for Pfizer and Moderna,” he added.
Baker announced that the vaccine will be distributed in three phases:
Phase 1 (December 2020 – February 2021)
- Clinical and non-clinical health workers providing direct care and coping with COVID
- Long-term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities
- Police, fire and medical emergency services
- Collective care settings (including shelters and correctional centers)
- Home health workers
- Healthcare workers providing non-COVID care
Phase 2 (February 2021 – April 2021)
- People with 2+ comorbidities (high risk of complications from COVID-19)
- Early education, K-12, public transport, groceries, utilities, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works and public health workers
- Adults 65 and over
- Individuals with comorbidity
Phase 3 (April 2021 -)
- Vaccine available to the general public
“As the vaccine infrastructure grows, the Commonwealth will make the vaccine available in more healthcare settings, including pharmacies, local health departments and public health clinics,” explained Baker.
The governor also said the vaccine would be free for everyone.
Massachusetts expects to receive additional vaccine shipments in January, February and March, Baker said, and the state hopes to distribute more than 2 million doses to priority population groups by the end of March. .
Communities of color and populations at risk will be prioritized throughout the distribution process, according to Baker.
Dr Paul Biddinger, chairman of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, said during Wednesday’s briefing that anyone who has contracted the virus will be asked to wait three months to get vaccinated.
He also said that people who receive the vaccine should continue to wear masks as they may still be able to spread the virus. Wearing the mask will continue until enough people have been vaccinated, which he says could be in six to eight months.
The Massachusetts Department of Health reported 5,675 new coronavirus cases and 89 additional COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday.