‘Where’s the communication?’: State, local officials perplexed by vaccine rollout

BURLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Town officials in Burlington saying they are frustrated with the little direction they have been given on how to vaccinate their most at-risk residents.

A clinic was scheduled to be held at a senior center in town on Wednesday with the goal of vaccinating 100 seniors. The problem — as of Tuesday night, the town had not received any doses or any communication.

“I’d like to know what’s going on. Where’s the communication? Is there a shortage,” Burlington Board of Health Chairman Dr. Ed Weiner asked.

So where is it? That is what Weiner said he wants to know.

“Last week, we asked for hundreds of doses. we got none. The week before, we asked for hundreds of doses, we got a hundred,” he explained.

Those hundred doses were used up in just one morning. Since then, the town has continued to request hundreds more for its residents.

Now, they say 100 more seniors are signed up and ready to go for a clinic that was supposed to be held on Wednesday — but so far, no word.

“We had 100 seniors over the age of 75 all signed up and ready to go,” Weiner said. “We had to call each and everyone one of them, or communicate with them, and tell them – we don’t have a vaccine, there is a shortage.”

In the meantime, CIC Health, which is running the state’s mass vaccination sites at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park, tweeted out a message that has left Burlington leaders and state lawmakers scratching their heads:

“Just under 2,000 appointments are available at Gillette Stadium for the upcoming weekend.”

Many are wondering how vaccination appointments are available at certain sites but why doses are not being distributed to the towns.

“It’s so disappointing on so many levels because Burlington is capable and ready as are so many other local boards of health to administer this vaccine to a group of people, for the most part, are more comfortable in their home communities,” said State Representative Kenneth Gordon.

He is now working with State Senator Cindy Friedman to get answers.

In a statement, Friedman wrote:

“What is most concerning to me is the lack of clear communication between the Command Center and our local boards of health who are trying to get the vaccine to their residents, especially to our most vulnerable community members.”

A representative from the state’s Department of Public Health told 7NEWS they are looking into this matter.

Dr. Weinder said Burlington is looking for better communication with the state.

“Let’s sit down and talk and find the best way for vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible. and communities with boards of health have the ability to be part of that plan,” he suggested.

Weiner said he was able to rebook all the appointments scheduled for Wednesday for sometime next week. But, that depends on whether the town can get its hands on doses from the state.

Governor Charlie Baker’s office has not yet responded for comment.

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