BOSTON (WHDH) - The Baker Administration plans to release more information next week on the vaccination distribution plan for first responders as local legislators and the firefighters union in Massachusetts asks for clarity.
Gov. Charlie Baker said during a press conference Wednesday that local leaders are meeting formally Thursday to discuss the best ways to vaccinate first responders as part of the next step in Phase One of the state’s distribution plan.
“We need to figure out what the right approach to this is and how much of this could be done by the locals, how much of this ought to be done by the support of the Commonwealth, and then what are going to be the sites, generally speaking, the people will be able to access as this process rolls out,” he explained.
Baker added that each community organizes their first responders departments differently, so it’s important that they do not take a one-step approach.
“This is a great example where one size fits all is not the right answer,” he said. “We need to make sure that we do something that we believe can work administratively and from a reporting point of view, but will also work for the fact that we have a lot of different ways of organizing and structuring how first responders operate and how their programs are administered in Massachusetts.”
Local legislators and Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts have expressed concerns about the clarity of the distribution process for first responders.
State Rep. Harold P. Naughton, Jr. wrote a letter Wednesday to Baker and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, saying that there is a need for “greater clarity and transparency on how and when vaccines will be administered to other priority populations as part of Phase 1.”
“I have heard from many in the first responder and public safety community that there has been little to no information provided as to when vaccines will be provided to fire, law enforcement and emergency personnel (other than inclusion in Phase 1 and a general timeline of December to February). Nor has sufficient guidance been provided as to how vaccines will be administered to these groups,” the letter continued.
Naughton and dozens of other legislators who signed the letter called for the Baker Administration to create a regionalized plan to distribute and administer the vaccine to public safety personnel.
PFFM Secretary-Treasurer Bill Cabral called the unclear timeline for first responders vaccinations “really troublesome” after nearly 350 members of the firefighters union tested positive for the coronavirus this month.
“We should be at the top of the numbers for vaccine but there’s no plan in place right now,” he said.
The firefighters union and local legislators are not the only critics of the vaccine rollout.
President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday, “The Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind.”
The goal of Operation Warp Speed was to get the COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of 20 million Americans by the end of the year; however, just over two million Americans have been vaccinated so far.
Washington Post contributing columnist Dr. Leana Wen said that at the current rate of vaccinations, “it will take the U.S. 10 years to inoculate 80% of Americans.”
Biden says he has “directed my team to prepare a much more aggressive effort with more federal involvement and leadership to get things back on track.”
Baker announced Wednesday that the Bay State remains on track to get 300,000 doses by the end of the year.
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