BOSTON (WPRI) — Nearly every member of the state’s congressional delegation is calling on Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to make changes to the way residents can sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
In a letter first reported by Boston.com, ten congressional leaders said they “remain deeply concerned that the absence of a centralized preregistration system for vaccine appointments has contributed to a slow and inequitable deployment of vaccines in Massachusetts.”
Lawmakers say they believe that will continue to get worse once more people become eligible to get vaccinated and demand increases.
Baker has previously acknowledged frustrations with the pace of the rollout but has said the issue mostly comes down to vaccine supply.
The delegation wants a new system to allow residents to preregister, confirm eligibility details and also receive notifications when an appointment becomes available at a convenient location to residents.
As Target 12 reported last week, Harvard University gave the Bay State an “F” in three out of four metrics in its vaccine rollout report card.
Those who signed the letter to Baker acknowledged the state’s poor ranking.
“A disjointed and cumbersome sign-up process has left seniors confused and unable to access desperately needed vaccine appointments, and the disproportionate reliance on mass vaccination sites has left appointments unfilled and large portions of our most vulnerable populations unserved,” the letter states.
Signatories of the letter say a centralized preregistration system for appointments, with multiple access points in-person and over the phone, would help to alleviate several challenges.
The group says first, identifying communities or eligibility groups where outreach is needed to help residents schedule appointments or build confidence in the vaccine would increase equity.
Second, streamlining the intake and scheduling process would be beneficial for both patients and providers.
Thirdly, enabling the state to match vaccine supply with demand would help ensure local providers
and clinics would be able to administer enough doses to warrant their allotment.
Members of the congressional delegation that signed the letter state they recognize this type of emergency communications system requires federal funding, and they would continue to fight for federal resources in Washington.
Earlier this month, a group of bipartisan lawmakers filed a bill proposing a preregistration system for vaccine appointments in Massachusetts.
The proposed system would allow residents to provide basic information and note any underlying health condition that may grant prioritization under the state’s vaccine distribution plan.
The system would also allow users to provide preferred vaccination sites, with the ability to get notified once they’re eligible and appointments are available.
On Tuesday, the Mass. Department of Health reported 967 new coronavirus cases, and that an additional 49 people in the state have died after contracting the virus.
The data shows 1,096 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with 275 patients in the intensive care unit and 177 on ventilators.