Baker asks feds for vaccine doses turned away by other states

Massachusetts

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WPRI/AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday he’s pressing federal officials to reconsider how they distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to take into consideration the relative demand for the vaccine in individual states.

The distribution of vaccine shots is currently based on population. But Baker said there is stronger demand for the vaccine in some states than in others with some areas essentially telling federal officials not to send them more shots because they haven’t been able to use the doses they have.

As of Thursday, more than 2 million Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated, or roughly 38% of the population.

“The vast majority of the people in the Commonwealth are interested in getting vaccinated,” he said. “Recently published data from the CDC shows that Massachusetts has the lowest hesitancy rate in the nation, with all of our counties showing hesitancy rates that are well below 10%. People in Massachusetts are eager to get vaccinated.”

Baker said Massachusetts has both the demand and the infrastructure to deliver two to three times the shots now being administered.

“I have expressed to the federal government that if they have states that are are turning away doses, we’d be perfectly happy to take them off their hands,” Baker said.

Baker said when it comes to relaxing restrictions and mask mandates, he’s not ready to do so just yet.

“I expect we’ll have some stuff to say before the end of April,” Baker said. “For now, people need to continue to follow the rules and guidance.”

“I think it’s really important for people to understand that we are not done with COVID, and we probably won’t be done with COVID for quite a while,” he continued.

Baker also stressed his administration remains focused on vaccine equity, and announced the state is launching a new round of multi-lingual advertisements as part of its vaccine public awareness campaign.

“We made a lot of progress to get our population vaccinated. I think most people know that this is a big part of getting back to normal,” Baker said. “We’ll stay focused on providing access to everyone who wants to get a vaccine.”

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