Westfield Newsroom

Velis addresses vaccines, named to committees

Hello Everyone,

I hope you’re all doing well. I know many of you reached out to my office this week regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, especially on Thursday when the appointment website went down. This is completely unacceptable, and the system absolutely has to be improved.

When individuals 65+ and those with 2+ comorbidities became eligible to book appointments this week, over a million new people became eligible. The state received just over 110,000 doses from the federal government this past week, and we simply do not have the vaccines at this time for everyone to get an appointment immediately. That being said, it should not be this difficult to access the site, book an appointment, and get clear information. Although Governor Baker is unilaterally overseeing the vaccine rollout and vaccination locations, I will continue to communicate these issues and advocate for improvements. Next week, the Legislature will be holding a public, livestreamed oversight hearing on Thursday to hear directly from Administration officials on the rollout of the vaccine process and the website itself. We expect answers from those responsible for this failure and a better system must be delivered for our residents.

This Friday marked the official end of “bill filing” season. After weeks of requests, research, and revisions, my staff and I are excited to announce all the bills that we’ve filed in the Senate so far. I will still have the ability to file bills through the entire two-year session, but submitting by this deadline ensures that they will be heard by a committee promptly.

I’m also excited to announce that for this upcoming Legislative session, I will be the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities as well as the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Recovery. As a veteran, I’m especially proud to announce my Chairmanship of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. All of these are policy areas that I’m passionate about and I’m very much looking forward to a productive Legislative session.

As a part of the bill filing process, my staff and I have been taking meetings with many constituents and experts regarding issues facing the Commonwealth. Among those meetings I took this week, one that stands out is the meeting I had with Maryanne Frangules, the founder of the Massachusetts Organization of Addiction Recovery (MOAR). We discussed how COVID-19 has exacerbated difficulties for those suffering from addiction and how the Legislature and especially my new position as Vice-Chairmanship of the Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Recovery can best help them in the upcoming session.

Thursday morning, I met with the Western Mass Legislative delegation to discuss how Baystate’s pending consolidation of psychiatric beds in the region and Holyoke Medical Center’s acquisition of Providence Behavior Health Hospital will affect the area. As always, we will work with our partners in both the Legislature and in the private sector to insure the best possible outcome for the patients of Western Mass.

Recently, I also started sending out both quarterly newsletters and weekly email updates regarding the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. To sign up for my COVID-19 updates, head to senatorjohnvelis.com/covid-19-updates/ To sign up for my quarterly newsletter, head to senatorjohnvelis.com/quarterly-newsletter/

As always, if there is anything I can do to assist you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office. I can be reached at my email: [email protected] or by phone: (413) 572-3920 and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com.


John Velis

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