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Baker Says More Communication From Feds Is Key To Smooth Vaccine Distribution

Massachusetts's COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts will go more smoothly, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday, if the federal government could give states a bit more of a heads-up about when additional doses will be shipped.

The two available vaccines have been made available first to health care workers and will be available to first responders beginning next week in Massachusetts. Vaccines for the long-term care sector are also being deployed but through a separate distribution channel that Baker set aside when he made his comments Tuesday.

Baker said that Massachusetts right now gets "a few days notice about how much and when for the next shipment" but could more efficiently vaccinate people if it could plan further ahead.

"The speed with which it will happen is going to be very much a function of how fast the vaccine actually gets distributed by the feds and how much lead time they can give us with respect to when the next set of doses is going to show up," Baker said during a press conference at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

By the start of this week, about 287,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines had been distributed to providers in Massachusetts and 116,771 doses have been administered, including about 70,000 to health care workers, Baker said. He noted that the initial distribution was based on where the state's hospitals are but said the rollout will "look more like a traditional distribution" when first responders begin to get vaccinated at 60 sites across the state next week, and will become "what I would describe as kind of a general distribution" by the time people in congregate care settings and those aged 75 and older get the shots.

"Give us ... six weeks' worth of what the distribution is going to look like, how many and on what days, and we'll put the infrastructure in place to make sure that we deliver as quickly as we possibly can," Baker said Tuesday.

On a per-capita basis, Massachusetts has administered fewer COVID-19 vaccines and has used a smaller percentage of its total doses than any other state in New England, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, though the CDC presented different numbers than Baker did Tuesday.

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