Baker: Residents ‘need to be patient’ because increased vaccine shipment likely weeks away

GLOUCESTER , MASS. (WHDH) - After announcing that educators can begin registering to get the COVID-19 vaccine next week, Gov. Charlie Baker said that all eligible residents in Phase 2 of the state’s vaccination rollout, including teachers and staff, “need to be patient” because an increased shipment in first doses likely won’t arrive for weeks.

Massachusetts received 58,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved one-shot vaccine after it got the green light for emergency use over the weekend, but the state is not expecting another shipment until the “end of March or the beginning of April,” Baker stated during a news conference that followed a tour of the West Parish School in Gloucester.

“We do have the ability to dramatically scale up the number of people who get vaccinated in Massachusetts, but we can only vaccinate what we get from the feds,” Baker said. “If we are patient, everyone who wants one [a vaccine] will eventually get one.”

Vaccination appointments will be opened up to educators and staffers on March 11, a decision the state made after President Joe Biden on Tuesday set a goal to get at least one shot into the arms of teachers by the end of March to hasten school reopenings, according to Baker.

“We do want to make sure that there is not a lot of confusion between state eligibility standards and federal eligibility standards, so we will follow through with the feds to be consistent,” Baker explained.

With about 400,000 teachers and staff set to become eligible to get the vaccine, and hundreds of thousands of people over the age of 65 and those with two or more health conditions still in need of an appointment to get a first dose, Baker warned residents that the rollout could take some time if the state doesn’t see a boost in its weekly supply.

“We obviously need a lot more doses a lot sooner than the current guidelines that have been applied to us by the feds if we’re truly going to make our way through this group as quickly as possible,” Baker said. “Rest assured, people will get their vaccine but people will need to be patient unless there is a big change in the available supply.”

As of Wednesday, 33 percent of people over the age of 65 and those with multiple health conditions have received a first dose, according to Baker.

“The math on this is pretty simple. If we add 400,000 people on March 11 to the eligible pool, that will mean we will be back to about one million people who are eligible to receive a vaccine,” Baker added.

Baker noted that the state currently only gets 150,000 first doses per week, which includes vaccines created by Pfizer and Moderna.

A total of two million doses have been shipped to the state since the vaccine rollout kicked off in December and 88 percent of the shots have been administered, data shows.

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