COVID-19 updates

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On Wednesday March 10th at 7pm the SAFE Coalition in Franklin is providing an opportunity for citizens to speak directly with Secretary Sudders and Dr. Paul Biddinger, Chair, COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Board about the vaccines and the rollout. It will be a tele-Town Hall meeting and a session to ask questions and hear from the experts about the COVID-19 Vaccine. You can watch the event by clicking here on Wednesday, March 10 at 7 p.m.at . To phone in and ask questions, dial 877-229-8493 and enter PIN # 120397. You can get additional details and RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/930404551097062.

You should also know that Milford Regional Medical Center has a community vaccine clinic. The hospital updates its site regularly you can follow that progress and even sign up for a vaccine at https://www.milfordregional.org/coronavirus-covid-19-update/

Also, there is a site on Twitter that will provide you with alerts as open vaccine appointments come available. You can sign up for that program at https://twitter.com/vaccinetime

Finally, here is the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccination program that is being led by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. I hope this will help you sort through the process. 

Vaccine Distribution Timeline

The COVID-19 vaccine distribution timeline was developed with consultation from the Massachusetts Vaccine Advisory Group. The Group is composed of leaders from diverse settings, such as health care, the faith community, community organizations, and local government. With their input, the timeline prioritizes: protecting our most vulnerable, maintaining health care system capacity, and addressing inequities in health care access and COVID-19 burden. You can get details and updates at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/when-can-i-get-the-covid-19-vaccine, but here is a summary:

Who can get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Everyone in Phase 1individuals age 75 and older, individuals age 65-74individuals with 2+ certain medical conditions, & residents and staff of low income and affordable senior housing can get the COVID-19 vaccine now.

All groups in Phase 1 are eligible to be vaccinated, including:

As of February 18, 2021, all individuals age 65 or older and individuals age 16 or older with 2+ certain medical conditions are eligible to be vaccinated.

Phase 2 eligible conditions:

Caregiver/Companion Eligibility 

As of Thursday, February 11, 2021, an individual who accompanies a person age 75 or older to one of four mass vaccination sites to receive the vaccine will be eligible to receive the vaccine too, if they have an appointment booked. Both the companion and the individual age 75 or older must have an appointment for the same day and both individuals must be present. Only one companion may be permitted, and the companion must attest that they are accompanying the individual to the appointment. 

Older adults should not accept calls offering assistance from someone they do not know or trust. If traveling to a vaccination site with someone who is not part of your household, please continue to wear masks, practice hand hygiene, and social distance to the greatest extent possible.

Educator, Child Care Worker, and K-12 School Staff Eligibility

As of Wednesday, March 3, 2021, teachers K-12, daycare and preschool workers, and staff became eligible at all CVS retail pharmacies. Starting next Thursday, March 11, 2021, this group will be eligible to be vaccinated at all 170+ vaccination sites. The COVID-19 Command Center will work to designate specific days at the seven mass vaccination sites for educators to get their shots.  More details will be released soon. 

There are approximately 400,000 K-12 educators, child care workers and K-12 school staff in Massachusetts.  Due to a severely constrained federal supply and the existing population that is currently eligible for vaccines, it is estimated that it will take a month for all eligible individuals to secure a first appointment.  This timeframe is only subject to change if federal supply increases dramatically, which is a possibility in the coming weeks due, in part, to  the recently authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The order of Phase 2 is:

  • Individuals 75+
  • Individuals 65+ or with 2+ comorbidities
  • Early education and K-12 workers, transit, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, and public health workers
  • Individuals with one comorbidity.

Where can eligible individuals get vaccinated?

Eligible individuals can visit vaxfinder.mass.gov to view vaccine locations, including mass vaccination sites, sign-up, and eligibility information. Sites will continue to be added with appointments released on a rolling basis.

There are currently more than 170 vaccination sites in Massachusetts.

There are currently 7 mass vaccination sites in Massachusetts, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Fenway Park in Boston, Eastfield Mall in Springfield, the DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers, the Natick Mall in Natick, the former Circuit CIty in Dartmouth, and the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, MA. 

The Fenway Park mass vaccination site in Boston will be relocated to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The Fenway Park site will continue to take patients until Saturday, March 27, 2021. Patients who scheduled a second-dose appointment at Fenway Park after March 27th will receive their second dose at the Hynes Convention Center, which is expected to begin taking appointments as early as Thursday, March 18, 2021. 

Vaccinations are also available at pharmacies, such as Walgreens and CVS Health. Retail pharmacies, such as Stop and Shop, Wegmans, Big Y, and Price Chopper also provide vaccinations. 

Other vaccination sites include community health centers and community vaccination clinics operated by local health departments. 

CareWell 2nd Doses

CareWell Urgent Carewill be receiving a shipment of 3,000 vaccines early next Monday, March 8, 2021, to provide 2nd doses to their patients.

On March 2, 2021, they began reaching out to those patients who received their 1st dose at one of their locations to schedule appointments. CareWell has assured the Command Center and the Department of Public Health that they will honor all 2nd dose appointments. If you hear from a constituent who has not yet been contacted by CareWell, please let Rob McLaughlin know so that he can alert Secretary Sudders who asked to follow up on this personally.

Targeted Vaccine Equity Initiative

$4.7 million has been directly invested into the 20 cities and towns most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 to increase awareness of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and to reduce barriers to vaccination. DPH will assist each city or town by working with local leaders,  and community- and faith-based groups to strengthen existing efforts focused on awareness and overcoming barriers so that residents will get vaccinated when it’s their turn. These efforts will specifically focus on communities of color, homebound seniors, disabled individuals, and other hard-to-reach populations. Archipelago Strategies Group and Health Care for All will provide hyperlocal, population-specific communication resources as well as hire local residents and work with local organizations with cultural and linguistic competencies to reach disparately impacted populations in each priority municipality.

This work will complement the Commonwealth’s $2.5 million public awareness campaign, “Trust the Facts, Get the Vax,” adapting the campaign’s messaging for these specific communities. This work will be coordinated with targeted opportunities for increased vaccine access through existing and new locations, including pop-up sites and mobile clinics.

The 20 cities and towns with the greatest COVID-19 case burden, taking into account social determinants of health and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of color, are Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, and Worcester.

Support Vaccination in Historically Underserved Communities

$1 million dollars has been invested  in the MA League of Community Health Centers to support their efforts to increase vaccine safety awareness in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with the goal of addressing vaccine hesitancy and increasing vaccination rates. 

Regional Collaboratives

Eleven new regional collaboratives will support efforts to streamline vaccination efforts. These collaboratives will leverage local health officials, regional hospitals and others to deliver high-throughput, efficient vaccination sites for all eligible residents across the Commonwealth beginning March 1.

Collaboratives may focus outreach efforts towards those who live or work in the area, but must be open to all Massachusetts residents. 

Existing collaboratives include: 

  • Barnstable County
  • Berkshire County Boards of Health Association 
  • Franklin County Regional Collaborative
  • Harrington Hospital, in Collaboration with LBOH (Local Boards Of Health)
  • Heywood Hospital, in Collaboration with LBOH
  • Lawrence General Hospital, in Collaboration with LBOH
  • Marshfield-Plymouth
  • Northampton & Amherst
  • Randolph – Collaboration between Avon, Holbrook, and Randolph
  • Rutland
  • Worcester, Worcester State University, Commonwealth Medicine and St. Vincent Hospital

Later next week, a new Regional Collaboration will go live: the Lower Merrimack Valley regional collaboration, to include the City of Amesbury, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury and West Newbury. 

Information about booking appointments through these collaboratives will be available on www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine 

How can eligible individuals get the vaccine?

Massachusetts has launched a new COVID-19 vaccine finder at vaxfinder.mass.gov

All vaccination sites are listed but appointment availability is currently only shown for mass vaccination and some local board of health sites. For locations not providing their availability, click “Details” to visit their scheduling link for appointments. State health officials said they will be working to add more locations over the next few weeks as the tool improves.

Mass vaccination sites account for about half of appointments.

Steps to book an appointment:

  1. Visit https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/
  2. Select a location and schedule an appointment online.
  3. Bring your ID and your insurance card to your appointment. (You are not required to have either of these.)
  4. Fill out the self-attestation form, which will need to be presented at their appointment.

Due to extremely high demand for appointments and severely limited vaccine supply from the federal government, it may take several weeks to secure an available appointment. Residents are encouraged to keep checking the website as appointments are added on a rolling basis. 

Each Thursday, new appointments will be available for mass vaccination sites. 

The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line 

Individuals age 75 or older who are unable to use or have difficulty accessing the internet may call 2-1-1 and follow the prompts to reach the Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line in order to schedule an appointment. The Line operates Monday to Thursday, 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM, and Friday to Sunday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and is available in English, Spanish, and about 100 other languages. 

A representative will help them make an appointment through the state’s online system. These representatives will have the same access to appointments as on the public site. They do not have access to additional appointments. If no appointments are available, callers will have the option to be placed on a call back list for the mass vaccination sites. The caller will receive a call back when an appointment becomes available for them at a mass vaccination site, and the list will be called on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The Line is currently only for residents who cannot use or have difficulty accessing the internet and therefore are unable to schedule an appointment through the online platforms. The

Line is only able to support individuals with scheduling an appointment and representatives are not able to answer general questions about COVID-19 or provide individual health care advice.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Vaccine

Last Saturday, February 27, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the third vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19. The EUA allows the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.

Massachusetts is receiving only one shipment of 58,000 doses for the month of March. These doses have been allocated  primarily to hospitals and health systems. Based on information the Commonwealth has received from the federal government, the Administration does not expect to be able to order more J&J doses until the end of March or early April. While the Commonwealth is receiving limited doses of the J&J vaccine in March, the Administration is continuing to plan for eventual widespread distribution of the J&J vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccination Reports

The Daily COVID-19 Vaccine Report includes the most currently available information on vaccine doses shipped, the number of vaccine doses administered, including the number of people partially and fully vaccinated, and the percent of total doses administered. Additional data on vaccines are published in the Weekly Vaccination Dashboard posted on Thursday. The Weekly COVID-19 Vaccination Report includes more granular information by geography, demographic factors, and more. The Daily Report is updated each day at 4 PM. Information as of Friday, March 5, 2021:

 

Doses shipped to MA providers (MIIS)

1,805,825

Doses shipped to pharmacies directly from the Federal government

614,535

Grand total doses shipped to MA

2,420,360

# of people with at least 1 dose (MIIS)

1,355,389

# of people fully vaccinated (MIIS)

646,005

Grand total doses administered (MIIS)

2,005,800

% of total doses shipped that have been reported to MIIS as administered

82.9%

Frequently Asked Questions

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has a Frequently Asked Questions site that is continually updated as they receive new questions. Access the FAQs here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-frequently-asked-questions 

Constituent questions can be submitted to COVID-19-Vaccine-Plan-MA@mass.gov