Mar 17, 2021
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker Press Conference Transcript March 17: All Adults Eligible for Vaccine April 19
Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker’s coronavirus press conference on March 17, 2021. He announced that the general population will be eligible to be vaccinated on April 19. Read the transcript of his press conference with updates for the state here.
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Mayor Robert Sullivan: (00:00)
Hey, Zack? Zack? Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I want to, first of all, thank you for being here today. My name is Robert Sullivan, I’m the Mayor of the City of Brockton, the city of champions. This is a champion ethic, collaboration, working together. I want to first just acknowledge our great public and private partners here today, but also our esteemed elected officials, both locally and on the state side. We have State Senator Mike Brady’s here, Leader Claire Cronin is here, State Representative Gerry Cassidy is here, State Representative Michelle DuBois is here. We have from the city council, we have Councilor Tim Cruise, Councilor Susan Nicastro, the [inaudible 00:00:53] on the council, Dennis Eaniri, Councilor Jeff Thompson, Councilor Jack Lally. We have Jared Valanzola from Plymouth County Commissioners, Sandy Wright from Plymouth County Commissioners and our great Superintendent of Schools, Mike Thomas, thank you for being here. Vice Chair of the School Committee as well, Mark D’Agostino.
Mayor Robert Sullivan: (01:13)
So welcome to the Shaw’s Center. I want to, again, thank you for being here. What is happening today is saving lives. It’s been happening for a long time. Working together, the city and Brockton Neighborhood Health Center. We have lost 413 residents to this deadly virus, 12, 272 total cases overall here in the city, but we’re going to come back, we always do. And we’re only get to come back working together. And Governor Baker, Lieutenant Polito, Secretary Sudders, have been really wonderful partners. So with that being said, I want to welcome Sue Joss CEO of Brockton Neighborhood Health Center. Thank you, Sue.
Sue Joss: (01:48)
Thank you, Mayor, and thank you, Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito and Secretary Sudders for having this event here today. We’re thrilled to have you, and we’re also thrilled for your partnership. I spoke with the governor on May 1st at his press conference, and at that time, our positive rate in Brockton was 39.2%. Now we’re down, in Brockton, in the three and a half percent range, about 5% at the health center. And we’re just thrilled to be at the vaccination phase of this epidemic, although we’re still seeing people get sick, we’re just thrilled to be here.
Sue Joss: (02:27)
And the command center, the governor and his team have been absolutely amazing through all of this. They’ve been nimble, they’ve tried things, some things haven’t worked, they change. And we’re getting through this together, so it’s just so amazing to have them here today. And I also want to thank the people that have made this site really hum, the National Guard, our staff, so many of our own staff have worked endless hours, haven’t taken days off in months. Dentists are scheduling and calling patients, everybody’s doing what they need to do and changing their roles. The Council on Aging has been helping us schedule, along with the schools and several others when we found that we could vaccinate more than we could schedule.
Sue Joss: (03:14)
So the partnership has really been what makes this work, both at the local level and at the state level. And I have to say, we have the best governor in the country for managing this crisis. He’s been planful, on top of this. He’s pulled together a great team, been willing to change when things haven’t worked. So it’s my pleasure at this point to introduce our Governor, Charlie Baker.
Governor Charlie Baker: (03:38)
Thank you, Sue. And you can introduce me anywhere, any place, any time. Mr. Mayor, it’s good to see you. And as you were speaking, and you mentioned the city of champions, I couldn’t help but think how much Marvin Hagler would have loved what you all are doing here on behalf of the city of champions, because he certainly was a champion parallel to no other. And I think in some respects represents in many ways, the resiliency and the fight that this city’s always been all about. And we are thrilled to be able to be here today, I’ve been in this place many, many times over the course of many years for all kinds of events of one type or another. And this is a very creative and very imaginative and collaborative reimagination of how you could put this space to work. And I want to give [inaudible 00:04:43] and Sue and the team enormous credit for working with the city and with the owner-operators here to put together a first-class facility to serve this community.
Governor Charlie Baker: (04:56)
I do want to give a quick update on some of the details we talk about every day. We’ve now done over 17.5 million PCR COVID tests here in the Commonwealth of Mass since the start of the pandemic. The seven day average positive test rate is 1.86% and has been under 2% now for several weeks, and obviously that’s a huge drop from where it was back at the turn of the year.
Governor Charlie Baker: (05:22)
On vaccines, the Commonwealth is and has been for several weeks the national leader in vaccinations. In fact, Massachusetts leads all other States that have more than five million people in efficiently administering vaccines in per capita vaccines as part of our population, both total doses and first doses. And we’re number two in the country for administering first doses to Black residents, with just about 16% of our Black residents having received their first dose. And week after week, thanks to the hard work that so many people like the folks here at Brockton Community Health Center do, Massachusetts is among the top 50 States for vaccines being administered, top 10 among all 50 States for vaccines being administered. If we get shipments from the Feds, they end up in somebody’s arm in very short order.
Governor Charlie Baker: (06:15)
I know everybody’s anxious about all this, but it’s important to remember that everyone who wants a vaccine will get one and that practically no other state in America is moving as quickly as we are and as equitably as we are here in Massachusetts. As of yesterday, 1.6 million individuals have received a Pfizer or Madonna first dose, and almost 63,000 people ever received a single dose of the J&J vaccine. 946,306 people in Massachusetts at this point are currently fully vaccinated. And in the next 24 hours, we expect to go over 1 million Massachusetts residents fully vaccinated against this terrible virus. That obviously is a significant milestone for the people in Massachusetts and a real tribute and comment about the quality of the people and the organizations that have come together to create the very robust vaccination system that we have here in Massachusetts.
Governor Charlie Baker: (07:19)
We are one of a handful of States that’s vaccinated as many people as quickly as we have. We are getting through this, we can only move as fast as the manufacturers produce vaccines, and thankfully production is picking up. We’ve been talking with the federal government constantly throughout this pandemic, and yesterday we were able to get some assurances around how many doses we can expect in the next few weeks and into April. Those assurances represent an increase in supply that we’ll be heading to Massachusetts as well as to many other States and will benefit both our state allocation, as well as the federal delivery system. This week we also saw the solid boost in that federal allocation for the pharmacy program, as well as more for federally qualified community health centers receiving doses directly from the federal government, and that makes it possible for us to put together a clear schedule for when all residents will be eligible to be vaccinated here in Massachusetts.
Governor Charlie Baker: (08:21)
Now, back in December, we announced that the general population would become eligible sometime in late April or early May, and that qualified workers would be eligible several weeks before that. Today, Massachusetts remains on track to meet those original milestones. On March 22nd, people ages 60 or older and qualified workers will become eligible. On March 5th, people age 55 and older… April 5th, no, yes, April 5th, sorry.
Speaker 1: (08:54)
Yes. [crosstalk 00:08:54].
Governor Charlie Baker: (08:54)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, sorry. On April 5th 2021, people age 55 and older and people with one qualified medical condition will become eligible. And April 19th, Patriot’s Day, the general public will become eligible to be vaccinated here in the Commonwealth. For a complete list of who qualifies as a qualified worker, please visit mass.gov/covid vaccine. With assurances that the supply chain will continue to open up we’re also taking an additional step to prioritize people who are 60 and older and people who are 55 and older. There’s a very strong and important correlation between COVID and age, and we believe adding these groups by age will help us vaccinate more of our most vulnerable population faster. We all know that the anxiety that’s created by this process can be stressful for many people, and we hope that this clarity will help everybody plan ahead and know what to expect and when. These dates are when people will become eligible and it will take time, obviously for the vaccine to arrive here in Massachusetts and for everyone in these groups to get appointments and to get vaccinated.
Governor Charlie Baker: (10:18)
As a reminder, all Massachusetts residents can sign up today for the pre-registration system, a system which will then allow people to be notified when it’s their turn to book an appointment at one of the seven mass vaccination sites that are near them. And again, this is just for now for the seven mass vaccination sites, more sites will be added to the pre-registration system in April. All eligible residents can book appointments at any of the other over 200 public vaccination sites that are available through the mass.gov website. This includes pharmacies, regional collaborative sites and some local board of health sites. Appointments at these sites come online on a rolling basis throughout the week, so please check mass.gov/vaccine to book at those sites. And as a reminder, these dates are when we plan to make these groups eligible, it could take several weeks for the vaccine to get to Massachusetts so that everybody can get an appointment. And that will, at the end of the day, all depend on the availability of federal supply.
Governor Charlie Baker: (11:32)
We’ve obviously been working hard with a lot of partners, including folks like this, to build up our ability to administer doses when we got them so we’re ready whenever the increased supply shows up, and we have the ability at this point to administer far more doses than we’re actually receiving. In addition to the public vaccination sites that I mentioned, hospitals and community health centers continue to notify their patients when they’re eligible to set up an account. We should remember the hospitals and health centers are administering a tremendous amount of vaccine, they are a very big reason about why Massachusetts leads almost every other state in the country in this effort.
Governor Charlie Baker: (12:13)
Now for the week that’s the next week, this week’s order for next week, we’ve been informed by the federal government that we’ll receive 316,000 first and second doses. This includes about 170,000 first doses and a bit of a surprise, 8,000 unanticipated doses of J&J, the single dose vaccine. These will be distributed to the mass vaccination sites, to hospitals, to health centers, pharmacies, and all of the other 170 public sites across the state. Having so many sites across Massachusetts like the one here in Brockton ensures that everybody will be able to have access to a vaccine when it’s their turn. Community health centers have long played a critical role in the Commonwealth public health system…
Governor Charlie Baker: (13:03)
[inaudible 00:13:00] have long played a critical role in the Commonwealth’s public health system. They know their communities well, and they are trusted voices for their residents who have health concerns. They’ve been strong partners in the fight against COVID helping with testing and tracing efforts, answering resident concerns, and now helping to vaccinate folks in their communities.
Governor Charlie Baker: (13:22)
Here in Brockton, the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center has helped administer over 7,200 doses to date across several sites like this one. So far over 4,100 doses have been given here. Right? Since you launched on March 1st? And doses are being administered, as you all saw, by the Mass National Guard. The site has the capacity at this point to do between five and 700 doses a day. I had a big discussion with Marie about whether or not maybe they could do a few more at some point in time, which we’d be happy to help them with. But it’s important to remember that these local efforts by community health centers have been a big part of getting vaccines to people in many of our most vulnerable communities and ensuring quality in that vaccine delivery process. I want to say, thanks again to the mayor, to the city council and to the folks here in Brockton and to the National Guard for their partnership and working with the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center to get this done.
Governor Charlie Baker: (14:25)
The news about the arrival of more vaccine from the federal government, moves we will be able to move faster to get doses to our residents, and this is long overdue and welcome. We’re all eager to get back to something like normal and see our friends and loved ones again. The vaccines can’t come fast enough, but it’s important we don’t forget that COVID is still very much with us and that it’s going to be with us for the foreseeable future. We can’t let our guard down, and we certainly shouldn’t do so when we’re this close to the finish line. That means we have to continue to practice the stuff that’s worked over the course of the past year: Wearing a mask, keeping your distance, and practicing good hygiene, and staying home if you feel sick, and continuing to get tested. I’m going to mention this one again, continuing to get tested.
Governor Charlie Baker: (15:21)
There’s been an enormous amount of focus, which we all understand why, on vaccines and vaccinations over the course of the past couple of months. Testing, we should all remember, is free at hundreds of sites across the Commonwealth and it remains an enormously powerful tool in detecting and stopping the spread of the virus. If you think that you’ve been around somebody who’s been exposed or you don’t feel well, you need to continue to get tested.
Governor Charlie Baker: (15:54)
Testing in Massachusetts has been a critical part of how we’ve dealt with and managed our way through this pandemic. We built the testing infrastructure that made it possible for us to be the second largest per capita tester in the continental United States. The infrastructure is there. We’ve decided to continue to run that infrastructure through the end of June. We think it’s really important for people, if they have concerns, to continue to get tested. It’s a big part of how everybody can continue to do their part to keep themselves, their friends, their families, and their neighbors safe while we work through vaccination programs here and across the Commonwealth to put this virus behind us. If you have concerns, please get tested.
Governor Charlie Baker: (16:47)
And with that, I want to turn it over to Secretary Sudders, who has an announcement that has to do with continuing our support for communities that have been hit hardest by COVID. Again, I want to thank the delegation. A thousand. We going to get to a thousand, Marie? You going to get to a thousand at some point?
We’ll get to a thousand at some point. I’ll let you know when it happens.
Governor Charlie Baker: (17:08)
And I want to thank the Guard, and I especially want to thank the people here in Brockton for doing such a terrific job of coming together, to put together a really terrific site here to serve the people in your community. Congratulations.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (17:29)
Good morning, everyone, Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor, Mayor Sullivan, and a big shout-out to Sue Joss, the CEO of the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center and her team, the Guard, who always answers the call to duty, and others who are working to administer vaccine here in Brockton. I have to say, Mr. Mayor, the fact that this facility had been empty for several years and you walk in and how respectful, hopeful. I mean, I just loved the buzz. I really just want to stay here all day, just because of you hear the hope that exists of people coming in here and how they’re treated with dignity and respect. It’s a privilege to be with you.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (18:15)
Before my remarks, I do want to just give a shout-out to health centers. Like the National Guard, they always answer the call to community. I remember last March when there were breakouts at Father Bill’s house and you and I were on the phone and just the creativity and the ingenuity and the commitment to just figure it out, and we have, and here we are today. Just want to really a shout-out to community health centers.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (18:48)
I’m going to be giving a rundown of the vaccine now. So sorry for that, the advertisement for health centers, but not really because of their the backbone of so much of healthcare for individuals who don’t have access to healthcare as trusted partners. I’m going to give a rundown of vaccine allocation by channel and give details of new funding that has been made available from the CDC, federal dollars.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (19:14)
As the governor indicated we are receiving 316,000 first and second doses this week, for next week. In terms of allocations to specific providers, the mass vaccination sites receive 101,890 doses; health systems and health care providers will receive 99,230 doses; community health centers, this is outside of the federal allocation, will receive 27,450 doses; regional collaborative will receive 40,370 doses; and local boards of health for particular projects will receive 19,210 doses, and those are particularly for equity communities, as well as engaged in doing low-income and senior housing and ensuring that we have second doses. We are also providing 19,180 doses to mobile clinics that support long-term care facilities, congregate care, we have more than 2,400 group homes in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and affordable and low-income senior housing and home bound individuals that are not done by the local boards of health. Retail pharmacies will receive 8,490 doses from the state allocation. This is outside of the federal retail pharmacy program, and the retail pharmacy program provides 106,440 doses to CVS in Massachusetts.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (20:52)
It’s worth mentioning that while these distribution numbers are helpful, they do not necessarily indicate how much vaccine each provider has. Providers must use the allocations they’re provided before receiving more. That way, as the governor said, we can provide more sites with vaccine that can administer to people faster.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (21:15)
Today, we are really pleased to announce $27.4 million grant from the Center For Disease Control and Prevention. The funding will be used to increase trust, vaccine acceptance, and administration rates as part of the administration’s vaccine equity initiative and to meet the needs of high-risk populations. As we have underscored repeatedly in the last several months, with the vaccine rollout, a core commitment has been to the principles of preserving life and addressing equity. We must be intentional and public about steps in order to be equitable. And with the allocation of this new funding from the federal government, we are being intentional with where the money will be spent to ensure equity. The funding is split into five core components. Mr. Mayor …
Mayor Robert Sullivan: (22:08)
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (22:09)
4.7 million will go directly to municipalities and they’re local boards of health in the 20 communities for vaccine clinics and vaccine acceptance.
Mayor Robert Sullivan: (22:20)
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (22:20)
It’s not a procurement, so it is a best in class offer. It is a ML Sudders short form.
Mayor Robert Sullivan: (22:30)
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (22:31)
Just a couple of examples of this support, collaborate with key stakeholders, including local community and faith-based organizations, community health centers and community health workers who can support grassroots outreach, support additional staffing, public health, nursing, epidemiologists, and resource needs, identify gaps and acceptance and address hesitancy with trusted community voices in partnership with Archipelago Strategies Group and Healthcare For All. We’ve listened to the municipalities to get the funds out as quickly as possible.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (23:04)
$4 million will be dedicated to tailoring outreach and education on COVID-19 vaccine via direct grant funding for community-based and faith-based organization in the 20 equity communities. Again, some of these already have grants, so we’ll be extending the grants, and then there’ll be a very quick procurement for new ones, working with the municipalities. 10.6 million will provide direct assistance with vaccine access by funding direct services, such as, appointment registration assistance, transportation to vaccine clinics, mobility assistance, medical interpretation, and whatever other supports to be delivered through these contracted community-based organizations. Again, we’re trying to eliminate any barriers that may exist.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (23:55)
$3 million will be for direct vaccine administration in community settings. The funding will go to qualified organizations to directly administer vaccination to groups not effectively reached by other outreach efforts. Some examples, those residing in homeless encampments, people who are on the streets who are homeless, individuals with serious mental illnesses, and those who are resistant or afraid to access vaccine through conventional settings, including migrant farm workers, people who are undocumented, individuals who identify as LGBTQ questioning, and others who face barriers to access vaccination through existing access points.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (24:37)
Finally, I am pleased to announce an additional $5.1 million for community health centers. The Massachusetts League Of Community Health Centers is the recipient to support COVID-19 vaccine distribution in community health centers. Again, trying to make it as easy and fast as possible for community health centers to get the resources you need in order to ensure vaccination across your entities. The funding, as I said, maybe used by community health centers to support critical workforce equipment needs, outreach, education, community health worker, ambassadors. Again, trying for us not to tell you what your needs are, but for you to tell us what your needs are and for us to provide the funding.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (25:24)
I want to close by underscoring once again our commitment to the three pillars of our vaccination effort in Massachusetts: To preserve life, protect our healthcare system, and to achieve equity. Equity will continue to be at the forefront of our efforts as we receive more vaccine from the federal government.
Sec. Marylou Sudders: (25:44)
Now it is my privilege, truly, to hand the podium over to Abby Perez, who’s a nurse educator at the Brockton Health Center.
Abby Perez: (26:00)
Good morning. I want to start by thanking all of you for-
Abby Perez: (26:03)
Good morning. I want to start by thanking all of you for being here today with us. My name’s Abby Perez. Thank you. Today with me, Maria Celli, our COO. And we have [Katiani Collinette 00:26:16], Who is one of the supervisors here at the Shot Center. I’m a registered nurse at Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, as well as a resident here in Brockton, raising my five children in this awesome city. During the past year, we’ve been on the front lines of this pandemic and it has been very difficult and painful. We have been hit hard in our community by this pandemic, but the light at the end of the tunnel for me has been working with Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, alongside our tremendous staff, who has dedicated their lives to stopping the spread and protecting our city. We have been able to test more than 24,000 people, and so far have administered more than 7,000 vaccination. We have done this in collaboration with the city of Brockton, the Brockton Board of Health, as well as the National Guard. And we’d like to thank all of them. Thank you all. I am so proud of the work we have accomplished and inspired by everything we have done and everything we continue to do to protect Brockton and keep everyone safe. Thank you everyone for your efforts. Have a good day.
Governor Charlie Baker: (27:44)
Speaker 2: (27:44)
Governor, why these dates specifically? You said you received assurances from the federal government. You’re a data guy. We always hear about data. What kind of numbers are you talking about these assurances from the federal government.
Governor Charlie Baker: (28:07)
Well, we don’t… I mean, we’ve said many times that we don’t count it till it shows up in Tiberius. But the projections that the feds put out on the call yesterday were… Especially with respect to J&J, which I’ve been talking about for a long time, were really encouraging. Both for the very end of March and for the month of April. And as everybody knows, J&J is a single dose vaccine, which means for all intents and purposes, if you get a significant number of those, you can dose people once and be done. Whereas, with Pfizer and Moderna, it’s a two shot trip and that’s just different with respect to both capacity to deliver it and the speed with which you can move it around. The other thing I would say is that we are not the only state that was encouraged by the news on that call yesterday.
Governor Charlie Baker: (28:59)
There are many states that both yesterday and today have started to put markers down for where they plan to be over the course of the next six to eight weeks. And I do think for many of us, it was a function of the fact that not only did we get good news on the J&J piece, but also we’ve seen a significant increase in support from the feds over the past few weeks, for both the CVS Program, which I mean 105,000 doses is got to be almost double what they were doing six weeks ago.
Speaker 2: (29:31)
Yeah. It was a 17% increase just over the last week.
Governor Charlie Baker: (29:34)
Yeah. And in addition to that, we’re now up to about 170,000 first doses of Pfizer and Moderna, which is a reasonably significant increase from where we were a month ago.
Speaker 3: (29:46)
Governor, hundreds of thousands, or would you say millions of these?
Governor Charlie Baker: (29:50)
Well, keep in mind that the way we think about this is state specific, not national, because there are a lot of other places that doses go nationally that aren’t part of the world that we operate in. But I think we are going to see hundreds of thousands of doses. Yeah.
Speaker 4: (30:13)
Governor, this is [crosstalk 00:30:14].
Speaker 3: (30:13)
What was your reaction to that when you heard that? What’d you do? What was said?
Governor Charlie Baker: (30:16)
Well, I mean, the first thing I did when we got off the call was just work to confirm that other people were hearing the same kinds of numbers. I called a number of the other governors and said, ‘Did you guys just hear what I heard?” And I think for the most part, many of us are really enthusiastic about where this is going to be going, come the end of the month and the beginning and middle of March, or excuse me, April.
Speaker 4: (30:43)
Governor, this is a significant milestone and we’ve been through a very tough year. Could you take stock of where we stand now that everybody in Massachusetts knows when they can get this shot in their arm and how should people be feeling about it right now?
Governor Charlie Baker: (31:00)
Well, I think most people have done a… In Massachusetts, which is what I know best. I think most people in Massachusetts have done all they can do to work their way through the past year. I certainly believe the arrival of not one, not two, but three vaccines that are all deemed to be enormously effective and like 100% effective at eliminating hospitalizations and death in such a short period of time, is not only a wonder, but also a real sense of hope for people. The one thing I would say in addition to that is we do need to be vigilant and keep our guard up with respect to COVID generally, especially as the weather gets nicer and all the rest, between now and the time that we can get everybody vaccinated.
Governor Charlie Baker: (32:02)
I take a lot of comfort in the fact that 75% of the people over the age of 75 in Massachusetts at this point are vaccinated. And that around two-thirds of the people over the age of 65 are vaccinated. And many people who work in congregate care of one kind or another, and who live in congregate care, have been able to get vaccinated. And that we have a path forward here that is defined based on the information we got from the feds about supply, that people can look forward to getting their opportunity to get the shot in the arm. But it’s going to be important for us to continue to be vigilant between now and the time we get there.
Speaker 5: (32:38)
[foreign language 00:32:38]. Governor, can you gives us an updated number on the number of people who can actually be vaccinated? I know we have like seven plus million. How many people do we have to vaccinate technically? And then also younger people, they don’t have as much to lose apparently, any concern about them being a little bit hesitant as our next group of [crosstalk 00:32:56].
Governor Charlie Baker: (32:56)
I guess I put it in two ways. I would say the first thing we’re going to try and do here is make sure that everybody who wants to get vaccinated can get vaccinated. Can preregister, and based on the eligibility dates, will start to hear from us, or may hear from their clinician, or may hear from the community health center they go to, or may be able to book an appointment at CVS or one of the other locations over the course of the next several weeks and months. The question mark about the people who don’t think or are hesitant about getting vaccinated. I certainly think a big part of the money that the feds put out, that Secretary Sudders talked about, which is going to go to… In Massachusetts anyway, those 20 communities that have been most disproportionately hit, which have many folks in their population who are justifiably hesitant and nervous about the vaccine.
Governor Charlie Baker: (33:53)
The goal is going to be trying to convince a lot of those folks to come get vaccinated. I think sites like this in a place like Brockton, make an enormous difference with respect to people’s ability to sort of step forward and get vaccinated. But I think we all think we have a lot of work left to do on that one. The one positive I take about hesitancy from all the polling data I’ve seen is the number of people who actually say just flat out they don’t want to get vaccinated is reasonably small. It’s like a single digit number in most of the polling data I’ve seen. But I have seen polls that where a lot of people say, “I don’t want to go first.” And so my hope is as we continue to vaccinate people, and as we continue to make it possible for others to get vaccinated, that some of the people who just don’t want to be first, will take a look at their friends and their neighbors and their coworkers and their families and others and say, “You know what? I’m okay with this.”
Speaker 6: (34:49)
[crosstalk 00:34:49]. What does the increase in supply mean for distribution? Are we going to start seeing it back at local boards of health who were cut off originally? And will we see teachers be able to get vaccinated locally? We’re hearing some reports that doses were seized from their teacher only clinics.
Governor Charlie Baker: (35:10)
I’ll start with the back half of that first, which is that educators at this point are getting vaccinated in many locations all over the Commonwealth. We get reports on this pretty regularly from a lot of our colleagues and municipal government. What was the first part of the question?
Speaker 6: (35:26)
The first one was distribution, if we’re going to get an increase in supply, will the local boards of health get it again since they’ve been desperately wanting it?
Governor Charlie Baker: (35:33)
I think what we’ll probably do is continue to distribute based on the guidelines that we’ve established previously. Which is if you’re not performing at a certain level, you need to get to that level. And one of the things about the program we’ve put in place over the course of the past couple of months is it is one of the most efficient, most expansive vaccination programs in any big state in America. You don’t get to become number one in the number of doses you’re delivering per capita among the 25 or 26 states that have more than four million people without having a very expensive and very efficient and well operated vaccine delivery system.
Governor Charlie Baker: (36:14)
And part of that is driven by metrics. And those metrics are quite clear. If you’re not delivering doses and administering doses in particular timeframes associated with when you get them, you will be held accountable for that. And I think that decision that we made a couple of months ago, because we do think we are in a race against time. People want to get vaccinated. People want to have an opportunity to get vaccinated, and we want to get people vaccinated so that fewer and fewer people get sick. But a big part of this program’s success is driven by the fact that if you’re a participating entity, we expect you to perform at a certain level. And we have folks who are delivering at over 100%.
Speaker 7: (36:57)
[crosstalk 00:36:57]. Are there plans to ramp up capacity in Western Mass, like other vaccine sites?
Governor Charlie Baker: (37:02)
Well, first of all, Berkshire County is second only to Barnstable County in terms of the percent of its population that’s actually got a first dose. Western Mass, which is a regional collaborative, has been doing extremely well. The three counties next to Berkshire County are performing at about the same level in terms of first dose as the rest of Massachusetts. And I think what we will probably do to begin with is try to make more doses available to the sites that we already have that are up and operating. Because one of the things that’s also pretty clear about this process is the more you do it, the better you get at it. And the more familiar you become to the community. And in addition to that, if you want, which we do, people who are hesitant to want to get a vaccine, the best place for them to go is to someplace that some other family member, friend, coworker, neighbor has also gone to and had a positive experience at. So goal number one is probably going to be to put more doses into the operation that’s already been successful.
Governor, any plans [crosstalk 00:38:14].
Governor Charlie Baker: (38:13)
Ho ahead, Steve.
Speaker 8: (38:13)
Do you have any plans to start easing back some of the restrictions in place? Crowd gathering, this is the largest crowd I’ve been in indoors in a year. Are you-
Governor Charlie Baker: (38:21)
… This is a healthcare facility, so they’re a little different than the rest of-
… Right. But it’s a larger crowd. Are you anticipating easing those back and easing travel restrictions back some more?
Governor Charlie Baker: (38:33)
I think we made an announcement about phase three-
Speaker 9: (38:36)
Governor Charlie Baker: (38:37)
Step two last week. And many of those things become effective next week. And some of them the week after that, and the week after that. The two things we’re going to continue to pay attention to with respect to all the decisions around rules and guidance are going to be, how fast do we get people vaccinated and what’s going on with respect to our case counts and our hospitalization rates. As I said in my remarks, our case counts are down dramatically…
Governor Charlie Baker: (39:03)
… rates. As I said, in my remarks, our case counts are down dramatically from where they were in January, and our positive rate is down from where it was in January, and our hospitalizations are down from where they were in January. But, as I said, we’re anxious to vaccinate people as quickly as we can, but we’re going to continue to pay a lot of attention to the stuff that’s going on with respect to COVID in the Commonwealth and in the community generally and that will inform decisions we make about other stuff.
Speaker 2: (39:30)
Speaker 10: (39:30)
Early on you kept on referring to the fly-wheel, is the fly-wheel starting to turn?
Governor Charlie Baker: (39:34)
On vaccines, you mean?
Speaker 10: (39:37)
Governor Charlie Baker: (39:38)
Yeah, no. I mean, many of the places that are currently part of the delivery system are doing more doses.
Governor Charlie Baker: (39:48)
Remember when you start bringing in the second dose and laying it on top of the first dose, many of these folks have been able to continue to deliver the same number of first doses, which means for all intents and purposes, they’re doing twice as much vaccinating as they were doing when they got started. Almost all of them will tell you that once you do this for a while, you get better at it. It doesn’t take you as long to register people, to run through their attestations, and to get them situated and vaccinated so that they can then be observed before they leave. And I think in many ways, that has been very helpful in boosting our vaccination rates and the provider community would say the same thing.
Governor Charlie Baker: (40:32)
I’m sure you would say that too. And I know you would, because you said it when we were walking around.
Speaker 11: (40:42)
How much of a relief was that? I know you don’t-
Governor Charlie Baker: (40:49)
How much, what?
Speaker 11: (40:49)
Of a relief was that call yesterday? I know you don’t count the chickens before they hatch, you want to see them but this has been a year of this.
Governor Charlie Baker: (40:53)
Well, the thing that was most exciting for me, and I said this before is the J& J piece. I mean, this is no offense meant to Pfizer or Moderna, thank God they were there in December. But one dose that doesn’t require the deep freeze is just a really big deal in terms of everybody’s ability to significantly increase our ability to fully vaccinate people. Remember we’ve done 2.6, almost 2.7 million vaccinations at this point in Massachusetts. And we have dosed fully, right, a little under a million people. So that just speaks to how big a difference it is to be able to have a single dose vaccine in terms of how fast you can get people vaccinated.
Speaker 11: (41:36)
Right, but I mean, you’ve had sort of the weight of the world on your shoulders over the last year, so I guess was this a bit of a relief or no? We’re not really in that space yet?
Governor Charlie Baker: (41:45)
I’m not going to be… I would say that I think for us as an administration, there are three things that will continue to occupy our time in a big way with respect to where we are now.
Governor Charlie Baker: (42:07)
Number one is getting everybody who wants a vaccine vaccinated period, and we just have to continue to push on all of that until that time. The second is to continue to make sure that we have a transmission rate in Massachusetts that’s low enough to start thinking about this as an endemic instead of a pandemic. And the third is, we have a ton of work to do to sort of regroup and rebuild an economy that, for many people, has been just brutal over the course of the past year and to try to help those folks either find a way back into the work they were doing before, or to find a path forward for them and to work somewhere else.
Governor Charlie Baker: (42:54)
And then the final thing I’ll say is that to truly get to the point where we feel like we’re sort of behind this. So many of the sort of activities of daily life need to start to feel a little more normal and my view on that is that’s months from now. So I don’t think I’m going to relax until we get a lot farther down the road than we are today.
Speaker 2: (43:17)
Thanks everybody. [crosstalk 00:43:19]
Speaker 12: (43:19)
Governor, do you have the total pool of people, I was just trying to put-
Governor Charlie Baker: (43:21)
Speaker 12: (43:21)
I’m just trying it into perspective of tomorrow’s a million what’s the total pool? Is it around four million?
Governor Charlie Baker: (43:27)
I think four million’s about the right number. I mean, it would be great to have more all right. But when you get to the point where four million people have been vaccinated and 560,000 people had the virus, and hopefully once you get to that point, almost everybody knows somebody who’s been vaccinated. And hopefully that will encourage some of the late arrivals to just do it, which I think would be good.
Speaker 4: (43:57)
Governor, can I ask you about MBTA safety? There was a derailment yesterday in Wellington. Now the T is pulling all these brand spanking new trains off the rails. Are you concerned about this situation?
Governor Charlie Baker: (44:07)
Well, of course, I mean, any derailment is a cause for concern, especially one that has passengers on, thankfully they were going really slow and nobody was hurt. It’ll take about three weeks for them to figure out what the actual cause of the [inaudible 00:44:25] whether it was a track issue and people working on the track? So that question number one is, was the work that was being on the track have something to do with this? But I think the cautious thing for the T to do is to take the trains off and do a full blown inspection of them, as well as an inspection of the site, figure out what it is that caused it before they would put the trains back on. I think that’s the right way to handle it.
Speaker 4: (44:52)
Are you concerned about that contract at all? Because it’s been so slow, lots of delays in delivering the trains, nice that they’re being built in Springfield, but is it going well?
Governor Charlie Baker: (44:59)
The pandemic, we should all remember that the pandemic really mucked up a lot of transnational and international commerce of all kinds and because of that, we lost a significant amount of time on that project.
Speaker 13: (45:14)
Speaker 14: (45:16)
Governor, I was going to ask, how many people become eligible on the 22nd? And then how long do you expect that-
Governor Charlie Baker: (45:21)
Affected that 850,000.
Speaker 13: (45:23)
Okay, and how long do you expect it to take for them to be all be able to book appointments? You’ve been telling people to be patient and it take weeks for teachers, tens of thousands of whom are still waiting for appointments, to be able to book them. Do you expect the supply now to ramp up so quickly that that’s why lineups go down?
Governor Charlie Baker: (45:41)
Part of the issue associated with this depends to some extent on not just supply, but also, but also how many people actually want to get it. And I think in many ways, for us, it seems like about two weeks a big chunk of the group, whatever that group might be seems to get. You know, you have this huge rush where all of a sudden, you had nobody in the category and then you had 50 and then 60%, 70, and then it gets pretty slow after about two weeks. So part of the reason why these are two week intervals is that seems to be about how long it takes to get to the point where you’ve gotten everybody who is really anxious through the front door.
Speaker 15: (46:25)
[crosstalk 00:46:25] What’s your advice for people in the last [inaudible 00:46:26].
Governor Charlie Baker: (46:26)
Speaker 15: (46:26)
What’s your advice for the people in that last big group, 16 to 50 to become eligible in April? How long do they expect to wait?
Governor Charlie Baker: (46:36)
That’s a hard question to answer because I don’t know the answer to the supply question. What I would say is that the current framework we’re operating on here is pretty consistent with the one we started with in December. I think that’s good news. And if the feds deliver more supply, we’ll be able to make it happen a lot faster.
Speaker 2: (46:54)
Thanks everyone. [crosstalk 00:46:54].
Governor Charlie Baker: (46:54)
And the J&J thing is a big deal. People should not underestimate the importance of one dose versus two.
Speaker 16: (46:59)
Governor on the preregistration system, I know you described it as a first come, first serve in the past, but now that you’ve set these dates where someone who’s a general public member will act as first come, first served for them once the people [inaudible 00:46:59] the first general public people who signed up for registration [inaudible 00:46:59] I mean, does the preregistration system work that way?
Governor Charlie Baker: (47:19)
I think the way to think about it is there are going to be three elements that factor into your appointment. The first is going to be eligibility, right? Are you in fact eligible? The second will be when you signed up. And the third will be the availability within a reasonable area, geographically, for you to get an appointment. And that mixture is basically going to drive the way appointments, get parceled out by the system.
Speaker 2: (47:45)
Speaker 17: (47:45)
Are you taking your shot on April 5th, Governor?
Governor Charlie Baker: (47:50)
I plan to pre-register and we’ll see what happens because I will be eligible. I’m very excited about that. Thank you everybody. Thanks again to Brockton.