The Vaccine Rollout Hearing

This post collects my takeaways from the oversight hearing on the vaccine rollout held on February 25 by the legislature’s Joint Committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management. The hearing lasted 6 hours and may be viewed at this link. You can also listen to my Zoom discussion after the hearing at this link.

I was only an observer at this virtual hearing. In my view, the legislators sitting on the panel did a good job echoing the range of comments and questions that I have heard from many constituents over the past few weeks. My notes below emphasize the answers as opposed to the comments and questions.

The Website

The state’s vaccine finder site pits people against each other in a maddening contest to grab available appointments as they become available each week. 

In a legislative hearing last week, the testimony offered some clues as to why the state has so far failed to offer a friendlier process.  Ideally, we would have a site where residents could register their interest and receive notification as they become eligible, and appointments become available. 

It emerged that the state did recognize the need early last year.  The state was among the first to purchase licenses for PrepMod.  According to a search conducted by the CDC, PrepMod is the only off-the-shelf software suite for states seeking to manage a vaccine rollout.   

The PrepMod suite does include a module called “COVID Ready” that allows people to register interest in vaccine, but vaccine providers need to have software of their own to interface with COVID Ready and complete the full invitation and scheduling loop.  The CEO of PrepMod indirectly acknowledged the gap as she lamented the nationwide underinvestment in technology capacity in public health departments. 

The state chose not to sprint to build and deploy the software necessary to fill the recognized gap. The Governor gestured to one reason for that choice, namely that many vaccine providers in the state were not interested in working with PrepMod.  The big hospital systems – which together cover over half the people in the state — have their own patient databases and their own patient scheduling systems.   

The hospital systems do not need to register vaccine seekers.  They already have most of the information they need to identify the patients who are eligible in each phase.  In fact, the hospital systems have been doing better than that – they have been targeting their highest risk patients and reaching out to them proactively. 

Nobody quite said this in the hearing, but it appears that the state made a judgment call that it could manage the COVID rollout in the same way that it manages the annual flu vaccine rollout:  The hospital systems cover a lot of the available demand for vaccine and the rest is handled without a centralized registration and scheduling process.  Outreach and scheduling for a large fraction of the public, those outside the hospital systems, is left to a patchwork quilt of local public health departments, community health centers, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and other providers. 

The state failed to appreciate that the much higher sense of urgency about vaccination against COVID-19, the lower availability of vaccine, and the storage and handling requirements of the vaccine would make the flu vaccine distribution model untenable. 

When vaccines became available in December, states made different decisions as to how prioritize people for vaccination.   All were guided by CDC recommendations, but Massachusetts tried to completely vaccinate its most vulnerable populations before making vaccine more widely available, while other states moved more quickly to offer vaccines to senior citizens generally.  This defensible decision made Massachusetts compare poorly in raw rankings of states by vaccination rate. 

In response to public outcry about the perceived slow rollout, the Governor pivoted to a streamlined distribution model:  organizing the mass vaccination sites, cutting hospital systems out of the process, and forcing local public health departments to band together into regional collaboratives if they wished to continue to distribute vaccines. 

That is when the public started to pay the price for the state’s failure to invest in a first-class centralized scheduling system.  The state has been scrambling to improve the system over the past few weeks working with a group from the Broad Institute, affiliated with MIT.  The Governor and other state witnesses took full responsibility for the website problems and promised continuing improvements.

Equity and Shifting Roles in the Course of the Rollout

The state has already provided first doses to over two thirds of the over 75 population and the younger seniors are now moving through the system rapidly.

The head of the Beth Israel Leahy hospital system predicted that, within a month or two, the mass vaccination sites will start to empty out.  Right now, the appointments are being snapped up as soon as they become available, but soon the eager demand will have been met.

Then we will have to work harder to bring in patients.   Vaccinating people in poverty is hardest.  People in poverty are less likely to know about the opportunities for vaccination, more likely to have doubts about the safety of vaccine, less able to access and operate web scheduling sites, less able to get time off for vaccination and less able to travel to distant sites. These factors contribute to predictable disparities in vaccination rates

The state is already devoting resources to outreach in poverty communities.  Based on risk data, the state is partnering with the 20 communities with highest need.  The Baker administration announced a grant program to support collaborative efforts with local organizations who are likely to be trusted as vaccine advocates in hard hit neighborhoods.   

The state is allocating vaccine supplies to local health departments and community health centers in these communities so that they can set up clinics.

The state has also reversed itself on diverting vaccines from the hospitals to the mass sites.  The hospitals are often located in poverty areas and/or have satellite clinics in poverty areas.  The major health care systems are already working their patient lists to bring in those who meet eligibility criteria in the high poverty areas.

Ultimately, achieving high vaccination rates in poverty areas will take very personal outreach to patients – knocking on doors, going to workplaces.   

The need for convenience goes beyond poverty areas.  Many senior citizens and people with disabilities in other areas will have trouble working their way through the website and the mass vaccination sites.  And some people are confident enough in their own health status that vaccination does not feel like a high priority for them.  And, of course, there are those who are generally uncomfortable with vaccines.

For all of these groups, the strategies have to be much the same as for poverty populations.  That is why it is unfortunate that in its effort to accelerate the vaccine rollout the Baker administration has cut dozens of local health departments out of the process.

Local health departments are connected to local senior centers, local employers and other local institutions.  They had been running convenient clinics that reached eligible people who are unlikely to spend hours banging on a website or to travel to a strange facility.

The Baker administration’s current emphasis on large sites with higher throughput reflects both the pressure generated by the statistical horse race.  And, to be fair, there is a valid argument that herd immunity and the local extinction of the virus depends of vaccinating as many people as possible and does not depend so much on whether high risk people are vaccinated.

But I am hopeful that as appointment uptake at the mass sites begins to slow and as vaccine supplies increase, the administration will reemphasize the role of local health departments.  They can be an important part of the solution in many communities, not just high-risk communities.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

Join the Conversation

65 Comments

  1. I have a friend whose 90 year old father has been unable to get the vaccine. He is frail and housebound in Framingham and speaks only Spanish. Her octogenarian mother who suffers from congestive heart disease was able to get her first shot, but not the second.
    These people should not be overlooked in the mass rush to vaccinate younger residents.

    1. Hi Mary! I’m part of a community organization of volunteers who are helping folks book vaccine appointments. We want to support as many eligible MA residents in booking COVID
      vaccine appointments as possible, and particularly those who are disproportionately disadvantaged by the current system. We know the challenges and we’re up to them.

      We agree with your frustration and want to ensure those who are most affected by COVID are able to receive a vaccine in a swift and equitable manner.

      Here is our website that you can share with your friend and hopefully we can be of help to them!

      https://macovidvaxhelp.com/

  2. Thank you for this synopsis Will – much appreciated! I very much appreciate you continued engagement and dedication to info gathering, sharing knowledge and ultimate action to close the current rollout gaps.

  3. Thanks for sharing these summaries Will. Are there any efforts in this rollout taking place to ensure no doses go wasted once a vial is taken from its refrigerated state and the clock starts ticking before the dose becomes unusable if there is any mix up with matching doses with appointments?

  4. Senator, thank you for sharing with us such deep and perceptive analysis of the problem with vaccination in MA. That explains the situation. I wonder if you consider going public and publish your analysis? There is a lot of anxiety about the hardships with websites in population as you know. The explanation of why it had happened might be timely now when people still feel a sting from browsing internet all night long. I wish you to think positive, but “stay negative” as you work for us, Maryanne

    1. I think Maryann is right. Will your analysis was thoughtful and comprehensive. The Boston Globe could
      use it. Also The Boston Herald.

  5. Thank you for a well balanced and factual perspective. In particular, I am so pleased that hospitals, health centers, local public health departments and other organizations trusted by diverse communities will be getting empowered and mobilized.

  6. Will –
    Thank you for this excellent, detailed explanation of the vaccination process and the sequential decision-making behind the oft-changing process. The initial approach to use the unworkable “flu model” of vaccination process and the ill-coordinated, repeatedly adjusted outreach to elderly and hard-hit poverty communities nonetheless mystify me – coming from an Administration that should have understood, predicted and managed much better.

    1. Thank you for stating this so clearly. I, too, remain mystified by the lack of accounting for entirely predictable circumstances, such as high demand and low supply.

  7. I would just like to add a couple of comments.
    I agree the first round of roll outs done by the hospital systems went pretty well. They are organized with vaccines and registries of patients. They also have the staff and facilities available to do the job.
    The next roll out with the 75 plus was a disaster – and the same now for the next group. Calling in for days at multiple sites and waiting for hours to be told to call again the next day is not ok.
    Really it’s pretty simple – If folks are asked to call to get an appointment for a vaccine – they should get a date and a time – and in this instance – 2 dates.
    There should be no searching – no waiting – and no web with many different directions. And no driving for hours – searching for parking etc – it’s not been ok.
    So in my mind this has been a complete organizational failure.
    It’s a disgrace that vulnerable populations and their families have been put through these hoops.
    We have all deserved better.
    The communities are not hospitals – they and their populations needed to be dealt with with respect and intelligence – just like the hospital community. So the Mayors and City and Town Managers needed to run it.
    Unfortunately this whole process has shown how out of touch leadership is in Massachusetts with the communities they are suppose to serve.
    I am totally shocked and disappointed with Charlie and Marylou who I worked for for years.
    They both needed to surround themselves with folks who know the word “community” – and it is not at Gillette or Fenway or Reggie Lewis or Double Tree – or Dartmouth it’s totally not there.
    Cooperation and Partnership have been so lacking – disappointing to say the least.
    Just by luck I got into CVS in Newton on Rte 9 – it only took a week to get an appointment.
    So hopefully some learning is happening now!!
    And please vaccinate the teachers – you have put them into complete chaos ! What are you thinking???

  8. Thank you Will, a very thorough report. The State really has to solve this distribution snafu as soon as possible, probably through local distribution in the future.

  9. Thank you, Senator

    My spouse was notified via a hospital system. Very quick and easy. Appointment is set for three week from now.

  10. I share the sentiment of prior comments by Marianne Ozernoy. You have provided a good analysis of the vaccination conundrum. It would be helpful if you were able to make this more public.

  11. Thank you for the very insightful summary and analysis of how we got here. Let us hope some lessons were learned (the hard way).

  12. Thank you for taking the time to so thoroughly explain the process to date and for always being our advocate. It’s most unfortunate that Governor Baker’s background in heath care didn’t steer him to the right people for the appropriate information regarding the massive vaccine rollout in our state so it would progress smoothly rather than create the additional stress it’s caused for those unable to schedule an appointment. Hopefully he’s learned a bit and the situation will improve shortly.

  13. Thanks Will for the very thorough explanation, but as you know I’m working on trying to get my home-bound mother vaccinated, and I frankly give the state an F in that effort….. I’m sorry

  14. Senator Brownsberger, I admire the thorough and thoughtful way you always approach issues – looking at them from different perspectives and always listening to and connecting to real people on the ground, affected by what is going on. I really wish lawmakers will take time to analyze and hear out everyone and think through solutions rather than coming out with politically-motivated one-liners!

  15. As it was already noted by the Senator, there was a interim period of time when the major MA hospitals (such as Lahey/Beth Israel, Mass General/Brigham Women, Newton-Wellesley, etc) were excluded from the conduct of the coronavirus vaccination. That was clearly a mistaken decision, especially when it came to qualifying (or rather, as it was decided in fact, not qualifying) coronavirus vaccination eligibility of people with two comorbidities. Instead of allowing people to register for the vaccination on the grounds of having two comorbidities without medical verification (thus fluding and overwhelminng mass registration sites with potentially unqualified people) this group of people should have been filtered/handled by hospitals, which have the records of people who have qualified comorbidities conditions.

  16. thank you for your support & letting us know. I watched the hearing & question: What is going to actually be done to effectuate a postive change in the process of deliverables of vaccine?
    -I have been on the website for over an hour – wait room – went from 33 – 6- 1 & now reflects wait time over a day. Not cool.
    Absolutely ineffetive system; absolute fail in infrastructre for vaccinations; – leaving aside the availabilty from the FEDS. Asolutely failure in planning – it’s been a year & everyone knew at some point- we would need a system.
    Absolute fail…& should be letting doctors & hospitals reach out to patients – for vaccine. I rec’d an email…but Mount Auburn doesn’t have any vaccines..& email indicated ‘wait’ or go to Mass.gov.
    I am tech savvy & am unable to get to the brass ring of an appointment.
    What is actually been done to get this going properly??? I did not hear Baker give any specifs…he was duck & dodge…
    Jeanne K. Cosmos
    jeanncecosmos@gmail.com
    (in waiting room – still – over a day wait is on the page)

  17. Thank you Will,for the excellent summary and analysis. I particularly appreciate your understanding of the critical role of localized clinics and senior centers. Local public health experts interviewed on WGBH and NYT editorial today echo the importance of vaccinating on local level concurrently with use of mass vaccination sites. Although you are correct that achieving herd immunity does not depend on vaccinating the more vulnerable there is no excuse for Baker administration to have pushed for larger eligibility pools while supply is still limited. Herd immunity can only be achieved when distribution of large supply is smoothly administered. Question-the figure you cited,namely that two thirds of over 75 population is now vaccinated,where can I find that survey information? I and other colleagues in the elder service world have a hard time squaring that with what we’re hearing anecdotally. Thanks again for your work on this important matter.

    1. Hi Nava,
      The Governor said that at the hearing.

      The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey says that there are 496,000 75 or over in Massachusetts.

      The February 25 COVID Dashboardsays 330,740 who are 75+ have received their first dose. That’s exactly two thirds. That data is as of February 23, so it is almost a week old already and progress continues.

  18. Thank you as always for being such an advocate. As of last night, the state website showed no improvement. In various attempts, I was placed in the waiting room with a wait time that fluctuated between 6 and over 6000 minutes, got a message that it is a private website and saw 4 available slots at Fenway for today but no available specific time slots to schedule a vaccination. It’s difficult to fathom the utility of the 211 system at this point as they use the same software as the public and don’t begin their day until after 8:00AM when new slots are released. At that point it would be miraculous if they were able to schedule a vaccination for an individual seeking their assistance.

  19. Please face that the calls for equity which focus only on race and ethnicity disadvantage elderly people who are most at risk of dying. Equity is not equity if it does not protect old people. My cousins in their late mid and late eighties in New York did not succeed in getting a vaccination appointment on Long Island, and now the cousin in her mid-eighties is in the hospital with Covid. The locations for the vaccine are sparse on Long Island, and old people feel daunted by having to travel far. I hope she doesn’t pay with her life for the prejudice of those who favored other groups above the old and did not think enough about making the vaccine convenient for the elderly. It is injustice in my view.

  20. Follow the $
    There was already a system in place for rolling out flu vaccines.
    Instead $ have been spent on a system of having people compete for vaccines. The website is beyond dysfunctional. It is cruel in operation and a joke in experience. I have a screen shot of the site informing me that my wait time is 7220 min. just before it tells me to just give up but do try again another time. Like I’m going to do that.

  21. Thanks for this, Will. It’s really a shame that Health Departments were suddenly left out of the process. Watertown DOH was set up to vaccinate 1,000 residents/week and they would have reached folks who might have trouble traveling to Fenway or other big sites. Plus: they already KNOW how to vaccinate large groups of people!

  22. Another thank you for explaining the back story. I’m not eligible under the current standards, but my hospital notified me regarding my status. I am looking forward to when eligibility opens up for those between 60 – 65. Definitely planning to visit the hospital rather than a mass distribution site. Hopefully the J&J Vaccine will come along in a month or so.

  23. 1) This pandemic presents unprecedented logistical and communications problems. The country and the state have never been up against these particular issues before now. The 1918-1919 flu pandemic is not a perfect analog. Anyhow, the institutional memory of that event has long since faded. So improvising and winging it have been the order of the day, from day one. Glitches and foul-ups are therefore inevitable. What’s surprising is that almost 20% of the Commonwealth’s population have already gotten their first jab of vaccine. It could have been much worse. Just a few years ago it would have taken the better part of a decade. Mass producing several amazingly effective vaccines and getting them approved for use within only a year is an astounding achievement. 2) The USA’s public health networks are a nearly impenetrable maze of dozens of independent fiefdoms…local, county, state, and federal…. that historically haven’t talked much with each other. Let alone coordinated massive programs under extremely challenging and entirely novel circumstances. Persuading them all to cooperate and then ensuring that they do, in fact, cooperate….well, that’s a nice trick if you can do it. We’re stuck with a heap of dysfunctionality on a continental scale. Each part of the mosaic tries to do the best it knows how to do, with the limited resources available to it. The infrastructure just isn’t there. Ill will or obstructionism play an extremely small part in the many errors and oversights that have made the news. 3) Speaking of resources. Much of our wealth has, for many decades, been siphoned off by the gargantuan military-industrial and intelligence-surveillance empires. The federal government is at fault. Of course that government is effectively owned and managed by a handful of billionaire families and the CEOs of huge and immensely powerful corporations. Who operate it for their own advantage. State and local governments are chronically starved of cash to pay for needed services. Most of them are doing the best they can in the absence of desperately needed financial resources. The money exists, make no mistake about that. But it has been misallocated. There’s always more than enough of it to pay for bombing other countries and spying on our own people. 3) We, the people, are now paying the price for our many years of political apathy, resignation, and fear of confronting those who obstruct change. An inexcusably big chunk of those who are eligible to vote, never do so. Until we organize and loudly demand change (notably at the ballot box), we won’t see much real improvement. Participating in comment threads like this one (thanks, Senator!) might be a good first step in that process.

    1. Addendum a few days later to my original comment: I deliberately toned down some of my critical remarks (above) about inept bureaucracies and the misallocation of resources. I also carefully refrained from making what could have been construed as cruel ad hominem attacks on certain persons who are prominent in public life, and who have (in my opinion) made a bad situation worse than it already was. The guilty parties already know who they are. So does the general public. It would have done no good to heap my own additional share of outraged incredulity upon them. It probably would have merely gotten my comments kept off this thread on the grounds that they were libelous and incendiary. I hope readers will understand that I am just as angry as anyone. I’m trying to rein in that anger and channel it into potentially constructive directions. ‘Nuff said.

  24. Thank you, Will. I appreciate that you are listening to your constituents and trying to meet our needs. It’s a refreshing change from what we’re experiencing from our Governor.

  25. Senator, thank you for your candid description of what really happened and identifying the misteps. Refreshing.
    The MA hospital registration systems serving half the population in the state was discounted in favor of a brand new vendors registration system proved to be problematical. Why couldn’t an integrated solution been put in place. Was the PREMOD sole source and alternative implementations fully explored?

  26. As one of my tech savvy kids said: the problem is in the time allocated for the preparation of the roll out. We have known for at least six months that we’d need a vaccine sign up portal. That would have been enough time to design, develop, and test the sign up mechanisms. It isn’t easy but it would have been doable.
    Thanks, Will for keeping us informed.

  27. Thanks Will,
    You have provided us a wonderful service by hosting your Zoom meetings for input and explanation and providing this current analysis. You have demonstrated how representing the public should be done. It is discouraging when the governor and administration drop the
    ball so drastically. At least they are willing to make corrections.

  28. I think Maryann is right. Will your analysis was thoughtful and comprehensive. The Boston Globe could
    use it. Also The Boston Herald.

  29. My 82 year old was mother was scheduled for her vaccine on Feb. 20 but it was cancelled due to that site closing. The following week my brother who she lives with (and who would have been the companion caretaker shot we hoped) tested positive for COVID-19. I am at a loss for words about this entire situation. I just pray.

  30. Hi Will,
    Interesting read, and hopefully we will start to move forward in a better fashion. An interesting observation was made to me by a health care professional at MGH last week when she was lamenting the lack of vaccine for her critically ill patients. She noted that MGH has already distributed 80,000 vaccines before the state changed the rollout. She commented that “the state leaned on us so heavily when the crisis hit, asked us bear the stress, and devastation of people dying by the hundreds, telling families they had to say goodbye via zoom, but that now that there was an opportunity to be the bearer of hope, the state had removed that function from them.” It really resonated with me. That and the fact that she told us our only option was to get in line somewhere. I’m glad the state is changing course, there is a need for distribution on multiple fronts. People who are critically ill should be getting their vaccine with their trusted health care professionals. There’s still a lot of work to be done. Thank you for rolling up your sleeves.

  31. Hello Senator Brownsberger,
    Thanks for the update on Covid 19. In short, our family experience with getting vaccinations has been, and continues to be, an epic fail. Every day we spend hours looking for a location where we can get shots, and so far, no luck.
    Thanks for the explanation as to why it is such a mess, but it does not seem
    as if real improvement has been made. It seems that the software should allow the public to enter the distance they are willing to travel from their home, and dates they are available, and then be on the list for the first available shot that meets those criterion. The method of waiting online every day, and then after being online for hours, getting a massage that all appointments are gone… is just plain stupid. There are a lot of very smart people in Massachusetts who could set up working software. Please continue to work on lighting a fire under whoever is leading this. I am shocked that our government has blown this so badly.
    Thanks for your work on so may issues.
    Paula Furst Neckyfarow

  32. Thank you for your continued leadership and communication with your constituents about this flawed and beyond frustrating vaccine distribution. It’s disheartening that Massachusetts has had such failures, and even in their attempts to rectify the problems, the hiccups still linger.

  33. Did the state rely too heavily on modern technology? An NPR story last week reported that West Virginia had been 1st or 2nd in the US in the percentage of population vaccinated ever since the first vaccine was available — because the state uses a phone bank to connect people to local providers with appointments available, and the governor considers 6 minutes too long for people to be on hold waiting for an appointment. On the other hand, it’s not clear whether MA can even do a competent phone bank, given the troubles reported by people trying to collect unemployment….

  34. Senator,

    I couldn’t make it to your meeting. I think the website is worse than you indicated in your very good summary: It was designed by people who are thoroughly incompetent (and I know a tiny bit about tech strategy and tech development). Governor Baker’s supposed to be this hot shot healthcare executive; that’s his claim to the office of Governor. If his administration couldn’t pick up the problems I did in my first encounters with the website, then his competence is highly questionable. And yes, this is a political comment: We elect politicians to do the job competently and when they fail we need to call them out.

    So, what’s missing from the analysis the led me to say the people who designed it are incompetent? In the first version (before I encountered PrepMod), When I was lucky enough to be picked by the software, I was asked to FIRST input demographic, insurance and allergy information. (The logical — “Design Thinking/Human Centered Design,” to use the buzzwords in the business — thing to do would have been to let people lock in a place first and then provide the needed info.) By the time I could enter the data (and I am competent with computers), the slots that were open were gone. Then, the stupid system wouldn’t remember what I had input (ven while claiming it did) though I was using the same computer. Each time I got picked, I had to input the same information. A friend who did mange to get through told me, “Ignore those. Say no insurance. Say no allergies. That’s the only way to get in.” So, the State not only could not satisfy demand (understandable) in an equitable manner (NOT forgivable) but ALSO ended up with a database of questionable information (sheer, unbridled incompetence).

    When I got to PrepMod website last Thursday, I got online before 8 am. I encountered conditions others have mentioned. I also encountered one more: I picked dates as far out as the system would allow, reasoning that most people would pick the first available. Sure enough, at a particular point in time on March 4, there were 898 spots at Gillette West and 757 spots at Gillette East. The very NEXT click then said, for EVERY TIME SLOT “no appointments available.” So two consecutive pages of the website linked by ONE “Next” button don’t have consistent data. Sheer, unbridled incompetence. They don’t seem to learn from their mistakes. After hours–during which the same thing happened multiple times–I gave up.

    So, the different hospitals didn’t want to play nice and Baker rolled over and played dead? How about an executive order saying cooperate or the State stops reimbursement of ALL funds owed. Afraid of a lawsuit? How about calling all the CEOs to a meeting and saying, “Even if you ultimately win in court, you will lose in the court of public opinion. We will tarnish your brand with multiple press releases saying you are putting the lives of MA citizens at risk because you want to protect your profit streams.” (And I write this as a professor of leadership and strategy who has advised my fair share of CEOs of global companies.)

    Complete, sheer incompetence on the part of the Administration. Baker, to me, is more worried that if he plays hardball with his “home industry,” he won’t be asked to join a Board of a hospital chain (or get another similar lucrative position) when he steps down from his office.

    Call out the incompetence, Senator! Don’t let him take cover behind a crocodile-tear soaked apology for problems with the website.

  35. I feel I am one of the lucky ones. For me the link from Brigham worked. I have a lot of friends 65+ but could not book their vaccine date for a very long time and it became a subject of anxiety as they came across youngsters who got their vaccine bookings from many pharmacies and food stores ( claiming that they were the slots left behind by the absentees). The american way is to give the slot to those who are next in line rather than to strangers jumping the gun. There is no one single registration center which ranks people in the order they came. It could have been organized better as we in the US claim and have the best of internet options. Thank you.

  36. Hi Will, thank you for the update. What about teachers? We all want out children in school but why has MA not prioritized school teachers. My teacher relatives in 3 other states are already vaccinated. My wife teaches 4 days a week in school with 2 cohorts. Pooled covid testing is available to the teachers and students. Unfortunately the parents of multiple students have not authorized the testing of their children. She should have had the vaccine already. If the April 1st mandate happens then all teachers need to be offered the vaccine well in advance for immunity to build up. Declining pooled testing should not be an option for live teaching.

    I used the CDC web site and scheduled my mom, with no issues, at the mass vaccination site at P&W in CT; 8 lanes of cars on the runway was very efficient.

    Thanks fir all you do
    Rui

  37. Will, as always thanks for being a voice of reason, even if the message is a discouraging story of mismanagement and dysfunctionality. I cannot imagine any public health professional being unable to predict the course of these events given basic knowledge of the circumstances:

    We will initially have high demand and short supply requiring an extraordinary attention to scheduling systems at first (the first failure of the Baker administration, lack of foresight). The key will be to control demand through thoughtful reservation-based systems (Second failure, incompetent implementation). The 75+ wave was basically a “hand-holding” exercise for that cohort which actually seemed to go OK. The 65+ cohort, in contrast, was set upon itself to compete, tooth and nail, for short supply, we’ll see the next “wave” experience even more challenges as an additional 5 million people are thrown into the Vaccine Thunderdome. It’s simply not going to get better because of the choices the Baker Administration made six months ago and now cannot back away from.

    So let’s think ahead…. We’re all doomed (65+) and our kids (65-) are all doomed. We should probably write this chapter off as a horrible “learning experience” and be thinking about what comes next.

    Because, here’s what’s next: We’ll begin to face oversupply, anti-vax sentiment and potential immunological challenges as the new variants prove to be vaccine resistant.

    So, what’s the plan?

    Instead of the scattershot approach we took prior to February, I’m hoping someone is taking a look to the future.

      1. Once we get past this current health crisis, it is very important to maintain and improve the local and national public health infrastructure to handle future mass health challenges. With increasing ecological disruption and worldwide travel, we will inevitably see more pandemic challenges in the future. The specter of bioweapons lurks as well; a robust and responsive public health infrastructure is our strongest defense against this threat. We need to study other states and nations to understand what worked and what didn’t, so we can do much better next time.

        Thank you Will, for your thoughtful observations and efforts to understand and explain what is happening.

  38. Thank you so much for your detailed note. It helps to explain some of the reasons for the chaos which doesn’t diminish my disappointment and frustration with the choices that were made in the rollout. My primary care Doctor is at MGH clinic so I was waiting for the email from Patient Gateway at Massgeneralbrigham and then the vaccines were terminated from the hospitals. So I became part of the insane scramble for vaccines on the horrible vax finder website and gave up. Because it was difficult making appointments for myself and my husband at the same place close to the same time, I called 211. The people there were most helpful and we were put on a list. Meanwhile the hospitals were given the green light again and I won the lottery again and had my first injection today. My husband who has comorbidities is still waiting at MGH. But I got a call from the 211 people on Sunday and made an appointment for my husband at Gillette at the end of next week. It is definitely not our first choice to drive to Foxboro. Our preference was MGH or Fenway since we live in the Back Bay.
    I’ve read many article about the rollout in MA and as a retired community health RN, I believe the errors was not focusing in the Phase 2 Group 2 on supporting people in their communities. It took tremendous advocacy work of so many people to get supports in place now for people in their communities by the people who support them. I know this is an unprecedented pandemic, but surely the advisory team to the the governor had plenty of time to know that they were not dealing with the flu and the approach to vaccination required an unprecedented plan.
    Thank you again.

    1. “If you think one person cannot change the world, just eat an under-cooked bat.” [seen on a YouTube video]

  39. Connecticut, like Vermont, is rolling out the vaccine availability in increments and now available for teachers.

    Beginning March 1st, the next age group eligible for vaccination are CT residents 55 to 64 years old, as well as all preschool through 12th-grade educators and staff, and child care workers living or working in CT.

  40. Why is the state dragging on vaccinating teachers? Communities are splintering as parents who want their kids back to school for myriad reasons are being pitted against hard working teachers who continue to make a huge difference. Why can’t the state just add teachers to the eligibility list ASAP? Right now, we need to worry less about the people that need to be hunted down for a vaccine and much more about teachers.

  41. Thank you, Will, for serving the public so well. I wonder if , when the initial software for the mass sites (Danvers, Fenway, etc.) was tested, did they speak to a focus group of seniors over 65 and find out how many of them would be able or willing to use the software that was rolled out the first two Thursdays? Only when the hospitals reached out to me directly was it convenient for me (65 – 74) to book a site . And this despite my being fully computer literate.

  42. Thanks for sharing this info, Senator Brownsberger!
    I wanted to add to the discussion that it feels as though adult caregivers of elderly parents who live out of state have not been considered. Starting in March of last year, I’ve committed to driving to Virginia and staying with my folks (Dad is 92) for three to four weeks each visit so they can be safe. I help my mother with activities of daily living, prepare meals, clip toenails and cut hair for both, run errands, shop for groceries, take them to doc appointments or set up virtual health visits, and keep them engaged. I was blessed with great parents, so I don’t resent to effort, but it’s essentially turning into a full-time job, especially as my mother loses mobility with age. (Another sister takes over for me when I’m not there.)
    Does MA recognize my efforts as a home health care worker? That would be good to know.
    When I return, I’ve quarantined (14 days at first, now 10) or got a Covid test (negative) to be a responsible MA resident.

    I would never be accompanying them to Covid vaccines in MA, though ironically I did take them to both get the J&J vaccine last Saturday, March 6, in VA. They are both extremely allergic, I communicated with their primary care doc my mother’s legit allergy to PEG, and got a call from the INOVA system that they had the J&J vaccine on Friday, March 5, and we went in the next day for a smoothly run operation.

    Like many MA residents, VA residents were expressing frustration at signing up for a portal on January 18 or 19 and not hearing back or waiting months to hear back. I feel we lucked out, but it seems to be in part because we bypassed the entire online registration system!

    Thanks for listening, and know that your hard work is appreciated!

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