Sudders ‘comfortable’ with vaccine reporting lag

Post-holiday announcements include first responder, 75+ shot rollout

THE BAKER ADMINISTRATION says it has shipped 287,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to providers in Massachusetts but only 116,071 doses have been administered to patients so far. 

Gov. Charlie Baker and Marylou Sudders, the secretary of health and human services, said the numbers are so far apart because there is a lag of as much as four days in reporting a vaccination and vaccines are shipped to providers on a rolling basis and not all at the same time. 

“I have been informed that I should become comfortable with a several days lag in reporting, so I’m standing here saying that I have become comfortable with a several-day lag,” Sudders said at a State House press conference 

The state’s COVID-19 dashboard doesn’t mention a four-day lag, noting  data may be available in the system 24-48 hours after a vaccine is administered.  

The entries are made through direct input by vaccine distributors or from direct messages from electronic health records.

One example of the delay is a vaccine dashboard entry, published on December 31showing over 78,600 first doses having been administered. A subsequent 37,400 were administered from that day until January 4, according to Baker, but haven’t been reflected online.  

The discrepancy in numbers has raised concerns that some vaccine doses could go to waste if they are not administered quickly. Sudders said she did not think that was happening, although she said there have been occasions where providers over-estimated how many doses they needed and then had to scramble to get the excess doses to people who need them. 

She noted one community health center vaccinated first responders with excess doses even though vaccinations of first responders are not scheduled to start until Monday. She said hospitals are also informally collaborating with each other to make sure doses are used. 

We obviously don’t want the vaccines wasted,” she said.  

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine can be stored at 36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 30 days, and must be used within 12 hours once its at room temperature.  Pfizer’s vaccine requires colder storage at -94 degrees Fahrenheit and will only last for 24 hours at refrigerated temperatures. 

vaccines, COVID-19

The state’s vaccine disttibution timeline, adjusted on January 4 to add individuals 75+ and anyone with two or more serious health conditions to Step 1 of Phase 2.

In coalition with the federal government, CVS and Walgreens began vaccinations at long-term care facilities the week of December 28. 

The five counties whose providers received the most vaccines so far are Suffolk, Middlesex, Worcester, Hampden, and Essex.  Around 92 percent have been administered to hospital workers, and the next highest group is primary care practices at 4 percent 

About 45,000 emergency personnel will officially begin receiving vaccinations on January 11First responders will be able to get the shot at one of 60 sites set up by providers and community health centers, as well as regional vaccination sites in the works. 

Meet the Author

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.

Sudders met with 600 public safety officials and first responders on a phone call on New Year’s Eve after they expressed discontent over the ambiguity of the rollout. She said the first responder vaccination sites should be able to administer to up to 2,000 people a day. 

The state is also updating its vaccine distribution plan to reflect new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued on December 22. Individuals aged 75 and over will now be included in Phase 2, Group 1 of the rollout, slated to begin in February, along with individuals of all ages with two or more serious health conditions. This affects an additional 170,000 individuals that would have received the vaccine at a later stage.