State Outlines Initial Steps for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

 On Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced allocation and distribution plans for the first round of COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Massachusetts set to begin around December 15 – with the first round of doses going straight to front-line hospital workers and the second wave going to workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

The general public is expected to get its first access to the vaccine in April.

The state’s first shipment of 59,475 doses of the Pfizer vaccine was ordered from the federal government this past Friday and will be delivered directly to 21 hospitals across eight counties, as well as to the Department of Public Health Immunization lab. 

Doses will then be redistributed for access to 74 hospitals across all 14 counties for front line medical workers. The next 40,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine will be allocated to the Federal Pharmacy Program to begin vaccinating staff and residents of skilled nursing facilities, rest homes and assisted living residences.

Vaccine is being prioritized for these groups to maximize life preservation and to support the health care system. Based on information at this time, Massachusetts is expecting 300,000 first doses of the vaccine to be delivered by the end of December. The first vaccines, manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer, will require two doses administered 3-4 weeks apart.

While all delivery dates and quantities are subject to change due to ongoing federal approval and allocation, the Administration plans to receive and distribute over 2 million doses to priority population groups by the end of March. 

In collaboration with the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group, the Administration designated groups of medical workers, first responders and residents most at risk for serious illness to receive the vaccine before the general population. Communities of color and at-risk populations are prioritized throughout the process to maximize life preservation and to prevent serious complications from COVID related illnesses.

Anticipated Vaccination Phases and Timeline:

PHASE ONE (December 2020-February 2021):

•Clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers doing direct and COVID-facing care

•Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities

•Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services

•Congregate care settings (including shelters and corrections)

•Home-based healthcare workers

•Healthcare workers doing non-COVID facing care

PHASE TWO (February 2021-April 2021):

•Individuals with 2+ comorbidities (high risk for COVID-19 complications)

•Early education, K-12, transit, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works and public health workers

•Adults 65+

•Individuals with one comorbidity

PHASE THREE (April 2021- ):

•Vaccine available to general public While both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are pending FDA emergency use authorization, Massachusetts will not distribute the COVID-19 vaccine until it receives this authorization. Vaccines go through extensive testing, more than any pharmaceuticals, including extensive testing in clinical trials. The FDA, which approves the vaccine, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which will make its recommendation for use, must ensure any vaccine is both safe and effective for the public before approval and distribution.

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