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Baker to attend legislative oversight hearing on vaccine rollout

Gov. Charlie Baker held a State House press conference on Feb. 17, 2021 to announce that COVID-19 vaccine eligibility was expanding to include people age 65 and older.
Gov. Charlie Baker held a State House press conference on Feb. 17, 2021 to announce that COVID-19 vaccine eligibility was expanding to include people age 65 and older.Sam Doran/Pool

Governor Charlie Baker will attend a legislative hearing next week over the state’s shaky vaccine rollout, his officer confirmed Friday.

A newly formed committee in the Democratic-controlled Legislature invited Baker, along with his health secretary, Marylou Sudders, to come before them and answer questions about the start to the vaccine distribution process, which leaders in both chambers have said “disappointed” them.

State Representative Bill Driscoll, a Milton Democrat who co-chairs the new committee, tweeted Friday evening that he’s “encouraged” that the governor will attend.

Driscoll said in an interview with the Globe this week that he and his colleagues wanted to convene the hearings — a rare flex of authority for the legislature, which has been largely deferential to Baker throughout the pandemic — because of increasing concern over the state’s vaccine rollout, which lawmakers have criticized as lagging and lacking in equity.

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“Confidence has been shaken” in the administration, Driscoll said, as major changes in vaccine eligibility and distribution plans are made with little or no notice to state lawmakers. Recently, “it’s become abundantly clear that the legislature and the public need a lot more information as to what that’s gonna look like,” he said.

Even as data show Massachusetts is ramping up its distribution, criticism of Baker has hardly waned. Thursday, after the vaccine appointment website crashed repeatedly on the day that some 1 million residents became eligible to receive the vaccine, a number of Massachusetts officials slammed the governor.

Baker himself expressed frustration with the technical difficulties and pledged to resolve them.




Emma Platoff can be reached at emma.platoff@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmaplatoff.