Baker still optimistic despite vaccine delay

State expects 35,000 fewer doses by end of month

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER said he is frustrated the state will receive fewer initial doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 than initially anticipated, but doubted the delay would cause any major problems.

At a State House press conference on Friday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said the federal government informed her the state will be receiving only 42,900 of the 60,000 anticipated first-dose vaccines from Pfizer in its next shipment.

“We’re frustrated that we won’t be receiving the shipment we expected in the first wave and are working on getting clarity on what this means, why this happened, and how that bump will be dealt with along the way [forward],” said Baker.

About 59,475 doses have been distributed to hospitals so far.

Officials had been anticipating 180,000 doses of the vaccine by December. 31, but now say the number will be more along the lines of 145,000.

“We will continue to pivot as necessary,” said Sudders.

“I think the task at hand, the distribution of hundreds of millions of two-dose vaccines is a big one. I view this as part of the lumpiness that comes with starting a program like this,” he said, adding that he believes the state will get every vaccine it was promised eventually.

There has been no explanation from the federal government or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the shipment changes. Pfizer officials did not comment.

Baker said the distribution process “might lag a week or so,” but predicted an adequate amount of vaccine doses should be delivered within the first two months of the year. He said flatly that health care workers who have already gotten a first dose will receive their second dose on schedule.

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Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

The administration also announced it has ordered 120,000 first doses of the Moderna vaccine, which was endorsed by a Food and Drug Administration panel on Thursday and is expected to be authorized for distribution soon.

Sudders said vaccines will begin to be administered by CVS and Walgreens at long-term care facilities the week of December 28. First responders will have access to the vaccine by mid-January. Vaccines will be available at multiple parts of the day so people who work later shifts can also have access.