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In Letter To Baker, House Dems Call For End Of Companion Vaccines

Twenty-one House Democrats urged Gov. Charlie Baker to reverse course on a new policy allowing younger residents to get vaccinated if they accompany an adult 75 and older to a mass vaccination site, writing in a Thursday letter that the system "fails to fully address the persistent barriers that current eligible residents are facing in accessing the larger vaccination sites."

The lawmakers said the so-called "companion system" offers disproportionate benefits to families with reliable access to a car and ability to take time off work — many of whom will tend to be white and more wealthy.

While they said they believe the administration had "the best of intentions" rolling out the policy as a way to encourage more seniors to get vaccines, the legislators argued that it will result in as many as half of doses at mass vaccination sites going to "healthy adults" rather than to older residents or any of the other vulnerable populations who do not yet qualify.

"Vaccinations given to healthy, thriving adults will delay the ability of the state to vaccinate the hundreds of thousands of seniors 65 and older who still need to be vaccinated right now, leading to increased morbidity and death among our elders, especially those who are not able to rely on a companion to drive them and do not have access to a car," they wrote.

The lawmakers also flagged concerns that the policy could put seniors at risk, saying that websites such as Facebook and Craigslist hosted posts from strangers offering to transport older adults "within hours of the announcement of the companion approach."

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