Reggie Lewis Center to have neighborhood days
Baker says he’s trying to increase minority vaccinations
RESPONDING TO CONCERNS about the low number of people of color getting inoculated for COVID-19, Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday said his administration is trying to get vaccines in the hands of trusted providers in minority communities and setting aside specific days at the mass vaccination center in Roxbury for people from the neighborhood.
At a press conference at Fenway Park, another of the state’s mass vaccination sites, Baker said the neighborhood days at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury would be one way of making it easier for members of the community to get vaccinated. He said CIC Health, which is administering the vaccination program, has “been talking to many of the trusted players in those communities about what they and we can do together to try to encourage people to take advantage of those days that will be specifically designated for people in those communities.”
The Boston Globe reported that the people lining up at the Reggie Lewis Center on Tuesday, its first day of operation, were predominantly white.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley slammed the unequal distribution of vaccines as “vaccine redlining.” She pointed to weekly state Department of Public Health data that show black people account for less than 3 percent of people who have received at least one vaccine dose.
Baker said 21,000 appointments are being added at an additional 30 pharmacy sites, mostly in communities disproportionately hit by COVID-19. The list of new locations includes eight Walgreens sites in Mattapan, Roxbury, Dorchester, Chelsea, Everett, and Revere. The pharmacy program is an initiative of the Biden administration.
As of Monday, Baker said, over 654,104 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to state residents out of just over 1 million shipped to providers. That works out to 65 percent of the doses shipped to providers ending up in arms.
Baker said 100,000 new vaccine appointments have been added this week, and can be acquired through the state’s website, which he said has been tweaked to allow searches by zip code. He offered no new details about the centralized call-in center, which is supposed to launch later this week.
Baker, who is known for his managerial skills, did not apologize for what some consider a rocky vaccine rollout.
“I get how unhappy many people are with the rollout,” he said. But he said he would not apologize for prioritizing some populations – hospital workers, prison inmates, and the homeless – ahead of others. “I think we did the right thing there,” he said.“I’m not happy with where we are. I know a lot of other people aren’t either. We have work to do and we know that,” Baker said.
“One of the best things a good manager does is recognizes and understands that they have a problem and then busts their butt to figure out how to fix it,” he said.