I have received many calls, emails, texts and messages from people who are frustrated, distressed, anxious – and yes angry – about the vaccine rollout in Massachusetts. I want you all to know I share many of those feelings and continue to advocate through the legislative process for steps to be taken to improve the rollout moving forward.
Especially disappointing has been the website failures and the delay in the creation of the 2-1-1 call center. Many residents experienced the difficult to use first iteration of the state vaccine signup website only to then find out that the ‘new and improved’ site was crashed the day the 65+ population could start to sign up. Then just yesterday, seniors were placed on ‘hold’ for hours only to be told there were no more appointments available or worse they thought they did have a date/time only to be notified at the end of the process that the date/time was no longer available.
Personally, I experienced the same frustration as I tried to get my mother an appointment for over an hour only to be told there were no more available. It begs the obvious question – Why were people put in a waiting room when all the appointments were taken? Buying concert tickets 30 years ago seemed to run smoother – one seat one person.
I want to thank the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management who yesterday pressed the Governor and his administration on the vaccine rollout. Many of the committee members did a thorough job expressing the frustration of Massachusetts residents and the disappointment felt by so many.
For the sake of our students and our teachers we should put a plan in place to vaccinate all schoolteachers by April in an effort to get our students back in the classroom. Vaccinating teachers will give our school committees greater flexibility with local decision making and is an integral part of moving back to in-person-learning.
We should be distributing a limited number of vaccines to local boards of health so they can vaccinate local seniors who have difficulty with transportation, lack of physical mobility, or are ill. Municipalities did a wonderful job running the local clinics and many of the seniors I spoke with gave rave review about the staff and ease of use of these clinics.
We should not allow a resident to go through the entire process of booking a vaccination appointment on the commonwealth’s website only to be told the “appointment time and date is no longer available.” Either the appointment is available, or it is not.
To those who have contacted my office I want you to know I hear you loud and clear and have made every effort to communicate your frustration to the Baker Administration. Given the overwhelming number of communications, I have not had the opportunity to get back to each of you individually, but I am fully aware of your frustration.
I also continue to advocate with area legislators for a more easily accessible mass vaccination site, more to come later on this.
Given everything we have went through over the past year I understand people are emotional about getting the vaccine for themselves and their loved ones – and they want a sense of normalcy back into their lives. I also recognize that the biggest limitation we have faced as a nation is the lack of vaccines being produced. In the coming months, the federal government has reported that we will see a sizable uptick in vaccine production which presents an opportunity for the Commonwealth to get it right.
I will continue to work with my colleagues in the legislature to pressure the administration on the changes I have outlined above as well as others – and look forward to your continued communications.