WORCESTER – Gov. Charlie D. Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito gave an update Jan. 12 from the Worcester Senior Center, where first responders, including EMT’s, firefighters, police officers and dispatchers, began receiving vaccines on Monday. He also answered questions from reporters on threats to states related to D.C. attack.
Baker thanked the emergency personnel for getting the vaccines, and said on the first day in Worcester, 376 individuals were vaccinated. He also thanked the 282 certified volunteers at the site for being available. He said statewide they were able to get 199 vaccination sites for first responders up and running in less than a week.
Asked by reporters why Massachusetts hasn’t started giving out the vaccine to adults 65 and older as they have in some states, and which the CDC now recommends, Baker said as the CDC changes their advice it goes to the state medical group in charge.
Baker said the state’s priority is to first protect the health care system. He said he is “incredibly proud” of the work they’ve done in ensuring that people who need to can access health care in Massachusetts.
He said in terms of groups to be vaccinated, they first focused on those most at risk in long term care and nursing home facilities and their medical staff. Second are the first responders, and people in congregate care, assisted living and senior living.
“I think the recommendations made by our group are appropriate,” Baker said.
Another reporter commented that to the average person, April — when the general public will start to receive the vaccine – seems “a little way away,” and asked if that might be moved up.
Baker said he hesitates to get too far ahead of the distribution process. “We don’t have 20 or 30 days of visibility to what the distribution plan looks like… If we’re only hearing what our next dose looks like two days from now, the farthest I’ll go out is a few days,” he said.
Baker added that governors, including himself, have urged the feds to get farther out there with respect to planning for capacity, so they can anticipate when vaccines will arrive, and have the ability to make projections. “We will move as quickly as the distribution moves,” he said.
Baker also fielded questions on the reported threats to state capitols linked to the violence in Washington, D.C. on Jan 6. Baker said there has been an ongoing conversation between state and federal officials for months. “We continue to engage with them in terms of the intelligence they know,” Baker said. He also said at this time, they are not aware of any specific threat to the state house or any other public buildings in Massachusetts. “We will be appropriately prepared,” he said, should any problems arise.
Baker also said there are a lot of conversations with law enforcement both on the regional and federal levels who are actively involved in investigating the “travesty” that took place in Washington last week. “If any roads lead back to Massachusetts,” Baker said he would expect there to be prosecutions.
Asked about an upcoming call between the vice president and governors, Baker said he believes that call will be about the vaccination rollou, and having more visibility about the plan on a longer-term basis.
In her brief remarks, Polito thanked the first responders, saying it was an honor to be with them. “Day in and day out first responders have gone above and beyond to serve the community on the front lines of this pandemic. We know we have asked of you a lot,” she said, adding that they could not win this fight against COVID-19 without first responders and emergency personnel.
She said vaccinations are available to all first responders, with information and locations available online at www.mass.gov/firstrespondervaccine.
“Be safe, be healthy, and be vaccinated,” Polito said.