State Expands Vaccine Eligibility

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State Expands Vaccine Eligibility

Economy HR & Employment Law News | March 17, 2021
By: Chris Geehern

Everyone in Massachusetts will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-April under a schedule announced this morning by Governor Charlie Baker.

People 60 years of age and older, along with about 360,000 workers in a range of essential industries, will be able to get in line for shots starting Monday. Residents 55 years of age and older and people with a single chronic health issue will become eligible on April 5 before the state ends all restrictions and opens vaccine appointments on April 19 to a final 2.55 million people in the general population over the age of 16.

The Baker Administration says it has received assurances from the federal government that an increased vaccine supply will be available to states soon. Depending on supply, however, it could take weeks for people to be notified that an appointment is available at a mass vaccination site.

Massachusetts expects to receive 316,000 first and second doses this week as part of the state allocation. Another 106,440 first and second doses have been allocated to the retail pharmacy program and 9,500 doses have been allocated to the federally qualified health centers.

The full rollout comes as good news to Massachusetts employers, who have been anxious to encourage workers to receive the vaccine as the economy re-opens. Currently, shots are available to residents 65 years of age and older, front-line medical personnel, teachers and people with multiple health conditions.

So far, more than 2.6 million vaccinations have been administered in Massachusetts. Officials are working to vaccinate 4.1 million adult Massachusetts residents. The number of people fully vaccinated rose to 946,306 on Tuesday, including those who have received either two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

President Joe Biden has directed states to make vaccine appointments universally available by May 1. Governor Baker has said Massachusetts has the capacity to greatly increase the number of shots given per day at various sites, but only with greater supply.

“The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines is essential to moderating the public-health crisis and getting Massachusetts on the road to recovery. Governor Baker and his administration deserve tremendous credit for adjusting the schedule to ensure that as many residents as possible are vaccinated,” said Brooke Thomson, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

The list of essential workers who will become eligible for vaccinations on Monday includes restaurant employees, people involved in the production and transport of consumer goods, grocery and convenience store workers, medical supply chain workers and utility employees.

The governor also announced the release of $27.4 million in federal funds to increase trust, vaccine acceptance and administration rates as part of the administration’s Vaccine Equity Initiative and to meet the needs of priority populations. The state is working closely with 20 hard-hit communities in Massachusetts as they identify their specific community needs, further building on existing support.