About 1.5 million Massachusetts residents have preregistered to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment since the state’s online system launched last month, Governor Charlie Baker said Wednesday.
Baker said more than 800,000 people who preregistered have received “the opportunity to book appointments.”
The preregistration system, available on the state’s website, initially offered appointments at seven mass vaccination sites across the state.
After touring a vaccination site in Revere, Baker said the state later this week will add two regional vaccination collaboratives to the preregistration system, in Amherst-Northampton and Marshfield.
“The vaccine is obviously a crucial part of how we get past the pandemic,” Baker said, adding that more than 4 million doses have been administered in Massachusetts, with 1.5 million residents fully vaccinated. The state is focused on vaccinating the senior population and communities of color, groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic, he said.
“My hope is, as more people in their community, whatever their community might be, get vaccinated, they’ll look them up and down, realize that, you know, it’s OK and they’ll come out and get vaccinated,” Baker said.
Mobile vaccination clinics are a key piece of the effort, he said.
“That’s a big opportunity, and I really do hope that as we move forward, we see more and more [of the single-shot] J&J [vaccine] in the mix,” Baker said. “To go to senior centers and community centers and ... housing projects, all these places where a one-dose solution would actually be the sort of thing you could almost create a little bit of a rally around in those communities and in those particular places and spaces, is very real. But it’s really hard to do that.”
Whether mobile efforts can be expanded depends on the amount of vaccine Massachusetts receives from the federal government, he said.
“The feds have made really clear that they view the retail pharmacy channel as the primary channel, from their point of view, with respect to geographic distribution,” Baker said. “When they talk about on April 19 getting to the point where it’s open for every, everybody should be open and eligible — which we think is great, since we picked that day too, I’m glad they followed our lead — the big thing they say is by then, everybody in America will be within five miles of a [vaccination] site. And a huge part of the way they think about that is driven 100 percent by the pharmacy, the retail pharmacy rollout.”
The federal government is “also putting a lot of doses into community health centers, as are we, to make sure that we have plenty of available supply to serve those communities,” Baker added. “But the more people talk about, you know, where else and how else this can be done, for me that all comes down to how much supply is actually going to be available.”
Currently, the state is administering between 60,000 and 90,000 doses a day, Baker said. “I want you to think about the fact that right now without adding a single additional site in our current network, we could probably do double or triple that,” he said.
He said he hopes to soon learn more about the vaccine supply for May.
“I think by April 19, I’m hoping we’ll get more guidance from the feds about what they think the month of May is going to look like, because obviously that will be in many ways the first real opportunity we’ll all have to vaccinate a population that’s completely eligible,” Baker said.
Baker got his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday after preregistering and on Wednesday said, “I feel good.”