BOSTON (SHNS) – Vaccinating the population against COVID-19 will be a lengthy process, Cape Cod officials advised Thursday, urging patience as the state works its way through a tiered rollout plan .
Sen. Julian Cyr, a Truro Democrat, has previously been outspoken about the lack of testing opportunities on the Cape, and he described himself as someone who is “very candid” when he feels frustration is warranted.
“I know that people are so eager to receive this vaccine because it really provides such hope, but I think from a frustration perspective, I am not currently frustrated about the vaccine rollout here to date in Massachusetts,” Cyr said on a media call with other members of the Cape Cod Reopening Task Force.
On vaccination efforts, he said, people are working “as best as they can.”
Because Massachusetts has one of the “most robust” health care systems in the country, Cyr said, it will likely “be able to do this a heck of a lot better” than other states.
Vaccination began in Massachusetts in mid-December, under a Baker administration plan comprising three phases, with groups of people assigned with different priority levels in the phases. The third phase envisions the shots becoming available to the general public in the spring and summer.
The first two priority groups in the initial phase, health care workers involved in pandemic response and the staff and residents of long-term care facilities, have started receiving vaccines.
The next group — the state’s more than 45,000 police, firefighters and EMTs — is slated to gain access starting Monday. More than 100 sites across the state are planning to offer the shots to first responders, many of which will serve those working in a particular community or region.
Sean O’Brien of the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, said there will be “needles in arms” for the county’s first responders next week, including at some regional clinics.
O’Brien said local boards of health and other health officials are discussing plans for eventual wider distribution of the vaccine while working their way through the state’s protocols.
In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh said Thursday that the city is planning ahead for first responder vaccination next week, and talking to the state about additional vaccination sites. He said people are “tweeting at us, saying you can use us, you can use us, you can use us,” as potential clinic locations.
“I think now we’re in a bit of a groove here,” he said.
The Cape task force, Cyr said, has been fielding resident calls about vaccines and seeking answers from the administration when questions arise. With people aged 65 and older falling in the second phase under the state plan, he said he’s heard from people in that demographic who split their time between Cape Cod and a warmer state — “snowbirds, if you will,” he said — who have remained in Massachusetts throughout the pandemic and wonder if they’ll be eligible to get vaccinated here despite officially being residents of Florida.
That’s one of the questions the group has “elevated” to the administration, Cyr said. Phase two of the vaccination plan is slated to begin next month.
Vaira Harik, deputy director of the Barnstable County Department of Human Services, said she wants people to recognize that there is not yet “a swimmingly huge supply of vaccines,” but rather a finite amount so far that is being parceled out nationally.
“Nobody should be under any illusion that there’s this huge stockpile of vaccine that simply hasn’t been gotten to yet,” she said.
As of the start of this week, about 287,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines had been distributed to providers in Massachusetts and 116,771 doses have been administered, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.