Baker offers vaccines to ‘companions’ of those over 75
Also announces two more mass vaccination sites in Dartmouth, Natick
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Wednesday said anyone bringing someone 75 and over to one of the state’s mass vaccination sites can also get inoculated even if it’s not their appointed time in the vaccine pecking order.
Baker said he believed the new policy, which takes effect Thursday, will encourage more people 75 and over to get inoculated and possibly speed up the transition to the next priority group – those 65 and older. He likened the companion policy to what many supermarkets have done, setting aside special times for older people to shop.
“We’ve got to get as far through the 75s as we can because they are, in many respects, far more vulnerable to COVID than anyone else,” Baker said. The average age of those who have died from COVID has consistently fluctuated between 79 and 81.
The governor also said senior groups have told his administration that many people over 75 don’t want to be a burden and are reluctant to ask for help, even from a family member. He said by allowing those providing assistance to be vaccinated, the feeling of being a burden may be removed. He also said many 75 and older are showing up with spouses who are 71, 72, 73, and 74 and right now are being turned away.
The Baker administration also announced that new mass vaccination sites will open soon in Natick and Dartmouth. The location at the Natick Mall will open February 22, initially administering 500 doses a day and eventually scale up to 3,000 doses a day. The site in Dartmouth, formerly a Circuit City store, will open February 24 dispensing 500 doses initially, scaling up to 2,000 a day.
With the two new sites, the state will reach its complement of seven mass vaccination locations — Fenway Park in Boston, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Eastfield Mall in Springfield, the DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers, and eventually the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston’s Roxbury section. Anyone eligible to be vaccinated can make an appointment at the mass vaccination sites.
Marylou Sudders, the secretary of health and human services, said inoculations will be handled through a regional collaborative effort in the Lowell area, Cape Cod, and the Berkshires.
On Thursday, Sudders said, 74,000 appointments will be posted online for mass vaccination sites and pharmacies at locations statewide.
Approximately 30,000 additional appointments will be posted over the course of the week at pharmacies—totaling over 100,000 new appointments this week for mass vaccination sites and pharmacies.On a separate vaccine topic, Sudders was asked whether state policy sanctioned the practice, being reported in recent days, of providers administering vaccines left over at the end of the day to people not eligible according to the current vaccination schedule.
Sudders said such use of vaccines isn’t “official policy,” but she also said the official policy is “that we don’t want vaccines left idle or wasted.”