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Baker lauds Mass. vaccine effort during virtual meeting with Biden and governors

Baker lauds Mass. vaccine effort during virtual meeting with Biden and governors
Governor Charlie Baker touted the state’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccination effort Tuesday during a remote meeting with President Biden and several other governors.

Governor Charlie Baker touted the state’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccination effort Tuesday during a remote meeting with President Biden and several other governors, telling Biden that the Commonwealth is ranked number two in the country with about 74 percent of its adult population having at least one dose.

“My friends north of us in Vermont are ahead of us, and we’re going to do all that we can to catch up to them,” Baker said during the meeting, which was streamed live on the White House website. “Our program was basically what I refer to as a mixed model.”

In addition to the state’s mass vaccination sites, Baker said, “we also have regional collaboratives, with local boards of health and local providers in areas where we had a lot of geography between or among people. We had tremendous participation from our healthcare community, all the way from the hospital systems, to the physician offices. And our community health centers were a big part of the show for us, very early on.”

Equity in vaccine distribution has also been paramount, Baker continued.

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“One of the places we started straight out of the gate was a big, aggressive program to do outreach to congregate care,” Baker said. “This meant, you know, group homes that take care of people with developmental disabilities and mental health issues. It meant hitting a lot of senior sites that weren’t part of the program. It also meant going after homeless shelters and some of the folks who worked and were residents there.”

The multi-pronged strategy has worked, Baker said.

“I think in many ways, that approach, which sort of targeted a variety of different objectives early on, is the way we’ve framed it all the way through,” Baker said. “And our community health centers ... have been big players for us.”

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Biden keyed in on community centers during the meeting as well.

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is shifting focus from larger vaccination sites to smaller, community-based sites and mobile clinics to reach more people where they are,” Biden said.

The president also touched on the FDA’s approval on Monday of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15.

“That means parents who want to protect their children, younger teens who want to get vaccinated, we’re a step closer to that goal now,” Biden said.

He also heard from Maine Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat. She said Mainers are closing in on 70 percent of all adults in the state with at least one dose. And, she said, 53 percent of all eligible Mainers are now fully vaccinated.

In addition, Mills said Maine is the oldest state in the nation, with more than 20 percent of the population over the age of 65.

“When we began this massive logistical undertaking ... we focused on equity,” Mills said. “We focused on addressing what made us” vulnerable to the virus. “So we knew that older individuals were more likely to get very sick, suffer, and die. So after healthcare providers and first responders, we then began vaccinating people over the age of 60.”

The governor said Maine “nearly every day” is leading the nation in getting shots in arms.

“But we’re not dropping our guard,” Mills said. “We’re not slowing down.”

Biden also said during the event that Uber and Lyft will give Americans free rides to and from their vaccination appointments between May 24 and July 4.

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“I think that is really stepping up,” Biden said.



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.