Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday expressed hope that more doses of the coronavirus vaccine could soon be made available by the Biden administration, and that additional vaccination sites could be coming to Massachusetts.
Baker made the comments at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough following a tour of the mass COVID-19 vaccination site that opened there Monday for first responders. A second mass vaccination site at Fenway Park is slated to open Feb. 1.
“At this point in time the major message we got [from the federal government] at this point in transition is to expect at least what we got the last few weeks, which is around 80,000 doses a week,” Baker said. “The Biden administration has talked about 100 million doses in 100 days. That would be about a 25 percent increase from the 800,000 doses that are currently in people’s arms on a daily basis” nationwide to 1 million daily.
Statewide, Baker said, 377,459 doses have been administered.
“The health care system is making progress on vaccinating front-line health care workers, long-term care residents, and long-term care staff,” he said.
State residents, Baker said, can also visit mass.gov/covidvaccine to learn more about when they’ll be eligible to get their shots, as well as the locations of vaccination sites in Massachusetts. The website will be updated, he said, as vaccination sites area added.
Currently, Baker said, there are over 150 vaccination sites in the state, which can be accessed online at mass.gov/covidvaccinemap. Eligible residents, he said, can book appointments to get vaccinated at that website as well.
“The Commonwealth will keep opening more sites in all regions of the state to make sure that everybody has access to a site that’s convenient to them,” Baker said.
Baker said his “guess is” that over the next 10 to 14 days, states will have more clarity on the vaccine supply pipeline from the federal government and noted that two additional COVID vaccines are currently wrapping up clinical inquiry stages.
“One is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is one shot and doesn’t require the deep freeze, or the cold storage that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require,” Baker said. “And [the other] is the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is a two-dose vaccine as well.”
He said if the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines are approved “in the not too distant future,” that could “have a really big impact on the amount of vaccine that will be available” for distribution.
“That could dramatically expand capacity in a pretty short period of time which would make obviously, for all of us who are incredibly impatient to get this thing rocking, a really big difference,” Baker said.
The governor said he believes “within the next 10 days to two weeks you’re going to see a lot more [vaccination] site infrastructure in Massachusetts. A lot more.”
The state has embarked on a phased vaccination schedule that began with front-line health care workers and people living in long-term care facilities.
Baker was asked Thursday if he would consider bringing school teachers statewide into the Phase 1 group that’s currently eligible to get vaccinated.
“So, the advisory panel that we worked with considered the safety issues for all of the groups they dealt with, and any equity issues associated with that,” he said. “And we support the decision that they made.”
Referencing sectors currently eligible, Baker said, “home health care workers deal with people who may or may not be infected, close quarters, close contact every single day. COVID-facing health care workers deal with COVID every single day. Long-term care staff deal with one of the most vulnerable populations, by all accounts, every single day.”
He said long-term care residents “are by far, because of the congregate nature of their residents and the frailty of their own physical and, in many cases, medical condition, are one of the most vulnerable populations out there. People who are dealing with developmental disability issues and mental health issues. I think the phase one piece [of vaccine eligibility] was exactly where it should be. And, as I said, the thing that will make this move faster is an ability for the feds, either through the enhanced production of the existing vaccines that have been approved, or ... the emergency use approval, authorization for additional vaccines. That’s the thing that’s going to move the needle on this.”
Reporters also heard from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who spoke to the press on the 27th anniversary of the day he bought the team.
“We are very proud to partner with the state once again to continue to provide resources to assist the residents of the Commonwealth in their fight against the spread of this virus,” Kraft said, adding that “we are proud to become the first professional sports venue in the Northeast to provide large-scale vaccinations and have already seen the scale of our operations grow from 300 [shots] to 1,500 in our first week. We expect to continue and expand the scope of the vaccinations in the days and weeks ahead.”