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Massachusetts vaccine woes

The medical mecca of the universe has fallen behind other states in getting people vaccinated. Why, New Mexico has an online system that lets eligible people register for an appointment. Here? Local health officials are still sending data on paper.

Separately, the Globe notes the paucity of vaccination sites in heavily hit minority communities in Suffolk County.

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Comments

That bankrupt entire industries than it is to spin up a solution, when the raw material is offered to you. Right, Charlie?

And don't give me the automatic Orange Man Bad pablum. Massachusetts should have used every single vaccine provided to us and be begging Moderna and Pfizer for more. Instead, we're looking up the rear end of states like West Virginia and the Dakotas.

This one is squarely on Baker.

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Mattapan station, Roxbury crossing, Ruggles all have available office space to set up vaccine centers.

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For starters, you need refrigerators and freezers.

You need to be able to get supplies in and out.

Also? Local health departments are taking the lead in many communities. They don't control the MBTA spaces.

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There's also the requirement for 15 minutes of medical monitoring before release.

Office spaces in a train station aren't really conducive to mass vaccinations, especially with that requirement, because you won't be able to have a very high throughput. You can only put so many people in an office space and maintain safe distancing. It's really counterproductive to give someone their first dose and also expose them to COVID at the same time.

You would be much better off using gymnasiums, sports stadiums and convention centers where you can safely fit in a large number of people, who can then be attended to by a smaller number of medical personnel.

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Is there any scientific basis for the 15 minute wait? It's never been required for flu shots.

I really don't want to spend 15 minutes indoors with a lot of people.

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Well, people who celebrate Massachusetts as a national health (or did they mean medical industry?) leader have already got theirs.

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Nobel Prizes in Physiology and Medicine awarded for work done at Massachusetts instittutions:

Hospitals:

Brigham & Women's 2
Peter Bent Brigham 1
Dana-Farber 1
Mass General 2
Children's 2

Universities:

Brandeis 1
Tufts 1
MIT 5
Harvard 13

Industry:

New England Biolabs 1

Of course MA is also a leader in the medical industry, as you say. We are home to a number of pharmaceutical companies, including one called Moderna. Have you heard of them?

Mass General and Brigham & Women's are always listed among the top hospitals in the country, and Children's is generally ranked as the best children's hospital. The New England Journal of Medicine is considered the most influential journal of general medicine in the world.

The poor performance of the current vaccination effort in MA is shameful, because we had good reason to expect better, not because there was no substance the the state's claims to excellence in the field.

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Were any of those Nobel Prizes for administration of vaccines?

Some of the "Medicine or Physiology" prizes are awarded to folks that purely research scientists: biologists, chemists, biochemists, etc. and not medical doctors.

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substitute “All”. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is a science prize; it’s given for making discoveries, not for good doctoring. It didn’t go to Florence Nightingale or Médecins sans Frontieres; nor did it go to Jonas Salk, because he was not deemed to have discovered anything, only to have made good use of work that had already been done (and that had already won the prize).

I didn’t mean to suggest that all those Nobel Prize winners should be out there giving vaccinations, only that Notfromboston’s previous assertion that MA’s reputation in the field is just political propaganda was nonsense.

Your later post, saying that this is a logistical problem, not a medical one, is dead on.

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Florida is doing a better job vaccinating the elderly than we are here in MA.

Grandma is not even eligible for vaccination yet. WTF MA?

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They had big rollouts in GOP supporting areas and made a big deal about it. But they have people sleeping in their cars in line in other areas and have changed the age cuts over and again.

And arrested a health data specialist for saying otherwise.

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Florida was one of the first state to open the vaccine up to those 65+. You know, the group most likely to keel over from Covid. They are doing so good a job at that that people are deliberately traveling to Florida to get vaccinated(something they are quite pissed about).

The only metrics that really matter at this point is how effective you are at getting shots into the vulnerable. MA has failed, nearly entirely, by that metric.

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Florida was one of the first state to open the vaccine up to those 65+.

Hold up there. "Opening the vaccine up" doesn't mean getting shots in arms; it just means that they're saying that those people can get shots - if they can get an appointment, if they can get to the vaccine site, if things don't get screwed up. I can declare tomorrow that anyone with the letter A in their name can come to my house for a free chocolate chip cookie, but if I only have six cookies to give out, it's a meaningless gesture.

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" doesn't mean getting shots in arms"

Except they are doing just that and better than we are.

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I wouldn't trust anything reported out of Florida. They fired and are now prosecuting a data scientist for telling the truth about how bad the infection rates were getting - why wouldn't they also lie their freaking asses off about vaccinations?

Trump also diverted vast quantities of available vaccine to his favorite nether-licking governors.

Taking Florida's word for this is like going to 8Kun for your latest news updates on who is really running the country.

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I didn't say Florida, I said states "opening up" vaccine distribution to people 65 and up. By report, they are overwhelmed with requests. Also, a careful reader will note that this in no way endorses the approach currently taken in Massachusetts. The point is simply that the remedy you're proposing for the failures in Massachusetts ("open it up" to people 65+) won't solve the problem.

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My dad in FL got his. The public can’t get a damn thing yet here. Smug MA can suck it

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How nice for your dad, but please note that there are multiple ways to screw up.

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My 72 yo sister in FL has tried countless times to sign up for a shot. No luck so far. She send me a text every time. She will have a couple of devices on the website and keep pounding away.

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Governor Baker is not responsible for any problems in vaccine distribution, even though he has experience in health care management. Nothing bad is ever Charlie's fault. Nothing.

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MA was being fucked over by the Trump administration on distribution.

That is OVER as of Thursday, when President Biden approved the vaccine distribution plan and signed ten executive orders to support the plan.

Part of the hold up is that MA public health services are mostly controlled by localities, which are responsible for the vast majority of services. This is an enormous burden, but municipalities are loathe to give up any control, even when the status quo is inefficient and insufficient. This is a huge part of why the system is not online - many localities cannot deal with electronic registries of this sort when pharmacies are also vaccinating people.

Unlike Illinois which calls you to come in when it is your turn if you sign up ahead.

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The CVS and Walgreens portal had many more options than the states Maimmunizations.org page.

The states page is a mess. If they expect the elderly to effectively use the page and get a vaccine, you have to react rapidly, they are only misleading themselves.

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in Western Massachusetts.

That's anywhere west of Worcester.

NOTHING.

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And the location in Worcester is restricting usage to those in neighboring towns by my reading of the portal.

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There are sites in Pittsfield and in Amherst, although I believe that's new as of Friday. There are probably more as well, but I got that from a state senator whose district includes mostly Berkshire and Franklin, not Hampden. What site are you looking at?

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The Gov was waiting for the grownups to come back and help from the Federal side.

Trump had no actual distribution plan other than reward/punish/profit. That ended on Friday when actual plans were authorized.

I know more than I can say here about this. However, the state is weeting employees at the logistical insanity of it all and concentrating resources on the problem now that we know how much and when vaccine will arrive. An electronic system should be in place shortly. Equity is a massive consideration.

The delays suck and are agonizing, especially to us second wave folk. The first wave was mostly people getting jabbed at work or in their care facilities, but this rollout is a PITA and it is going to take a massive logistical effort.

Hang in there. The calvalry is saddling up.

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I have no reason to doubt anything you've said, but none of it changes the simple fact that other states have somehow managed to get much better results despite existing in the exact same lack-of-a-federal-plan-and-no-available-funding reality as we have here in MA. I'm sick of excuses. This was a situation that should've been handled better, and hearing people in positions of responsibility blame other people just makes me angry.

Maybe what we're learning here is that planning is overrated? If MA couldn't plan because there was no money, and we weren't prepared for rollout because we didn't have a plan we liked, maybe insisting on having a detailed and convoluted plan was the problem. This state is full of chronic overthinkers and I'm pretty sure it's bitten us in the ass repeatedly all throughout the pandemic.

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This:

Unlike Illinois which calls you to come in when it is your turn if you sign up ahead.

is something that Massachusetts ought to be doing, also.

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There's a disconnect here. We do have some of the best medical and medical research facilities in the country, the world even, right here. If you have a serious, challenging, or unusual medical condition, you are in the best hands. That doesn't make them any better suited to handle the logistics of receiving cold storage vaccines, lining up the appropriate recipients, preparing the doses, injecting them into arms, providing 15 minutes of medical monitoring, then sending them on their way with the plan to do it all over again in either 21 or 28 days.

When was the last mass vaccination in Massachusetts?

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Easily the most frustrating thing is that the hard part- developing and testing a vaccine- was done in record time. Meanwhile, planning on figuring out how to disseminate the vaccine should have been finished by October, with only a plan to be taken off the figurative shelf, but it really does seem like they are making it up as they go along. Meanwhile, West Virginia developed the infrastructure based on existing systems (local pharmacists) to do a great job getting the shots done.

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We should have had a better plan in place. I am extremely disappointed that we did not. But with what resources did we have to work on it that were not already stretched thin? Who here has experience implementing such a broad vaccination program? We eradicated polio in the US over the course of several years, decades before it finally was declared eradicated in our country. Have we done a mass vaccination since then?

I'm really not trying to defend the disappointing vaccination efforts in the state. I have some strong personal disagreements with some of the vaccination plans as it pertains to my line of work vs. those in extremely similar roles. But I'm capable of holding a grudge while also objectively recognizing the challenges that are difficult to overcome. We could be doing better, but I don't know specifically what we could or should have done differently.

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There were no firm plans for distribution.

There were no funds for renting or arranging the necessary facilities and equipment.

There were no funds to pay for people to administer the vaccines.

When you consider that local boards of health typically run vaccination clinics, the problem explodes because cities and towns do not have that kind of money to bet on vaccine showing up.

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Trump had no plan.

Repeat: Trump had no plan. Just some broad brush nonsense.

Now there is a transparent distribution plan that doesn't involve punishing states that didn't vote for someone and the state can plan.

Nobody knew when vaccine would be available or how much. There was no funding to do the planning or logistical arrangements, either. Think downstream from that for a minute. You'll get it. You can't rent space, arrange workers, etc. when there is no supply plan.

Even from your armchair with no clue about how public health works in MA and the magnitude of the logistics of this ... which I can immediately glean from your glib October comments ... I think you are capable of thinking it through a little better.

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That's not how the federal government (or any large organization) works.

Government agencies like CDC, HHS, FEMA have processes they follow. Among those is coming up with plans. These plans get passed up the chain. Leadership at the various agencies are informed of the President's priorities. They send up plans that match the priorities. From that point on, it's politics.

It's not a simplistic question of whether the President has / doesn't have a plan. It's more a question of what plans is the President publicly saying their administration is following.

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Which is wasn't, if the states were seeing a failure, they could have stepped into the breach. That said, can you give us an example of a vaccination program that was not administered by the state or by a sub state jurisdiction?

Look, I'll defend the public health officials for having to go from absolutely no Covid to a pandemic in 3 months, but think about it. We somehow get flu shots to people every year. It was well known the conditions the two approved vaccines needed back when people were griping about the M Street beach being too crowded in July. That the Baker administration cannot point to a cohesive plan is beyond me.

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if the states were seeing a failure, they could have stepped into the breach

With what money?

Do you have any idea of what's been going on for the past year?

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There is no way creating a plan would cost the DPH money. There are, dare I say, thousands of people in Massachusetts that can administer shots.

Again, I will say it. How is it that West Virginia has a stronger infrastructure to distribute shots than Massachusetts does?

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It's Tumps fault!!!111!!!

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There is no way creating a plan would cost the DPH money.

In what universe are you living where people's time is free and uncompensated?

There are, dare I say, thousands of people in Massachusetts that can administer shots.

For free? Are you buying their groceries?

How is it that West Virginia has a stronger infrastructure to distribute shots than Massachusetts does?

I don't know, but it might have something to do with West Virginia being a red state and a welfare state, while Massachusetts is a blue state and a donor state. They get a chunk of the money that we send to the feds, so maybe that's it?

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the states hardest hit minority populations should be fine:
https://boston.cbslocal.com/2021/01/15/gillette-stadium-covid-coronaviru...
/s

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Foxboro was for first responders, front liners and others in the first wave.

Community wide distribution is an enormously different issue for the second wave.

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Gillette Stadium has transformed into a mass vaccination site that anyone in Massachusetts can visit to get their shot once they become eligible and have made an online appointment.

wow, caucasian guilt is strong. just the mere suggestion that maybe something mite be not equally distributed has the deflectors on overdrive.

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That's a great source you got there.

Gillette Stadium has transformed into a mass vaccination site that anyone in Massachusetts can visit to get their shot once they become eligible and have made an online appointment.

That won't work too well for people living in North Adams. For that matter, it won't work too well for people living in Foxboro at the moment. They're not mass vaccinating anyone at present.

caucasian guilt is strong

Hit dogs holler, and the only one hollering here is you.

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A recent Globe analysis found that if you are Black or Latino and living in Suffolk County, you are more likely to have to travel farther than white residents for a coveted dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In Suffolk County, which includes Boston as well as Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, Black and Latino residents face stark disparities in vaccine access: Fewer than 14 percent of Black residents and roughly 26 percent of Latinos live in census tracts that are within 1 mile of a vaccination site, compared with nearly 46 percent of white residents.

Currently, the only public vaccination site in the county is at the South Boston Community Health Center. In her proposal, Wu said that site is located in a census tract where only 6 percent of the residents are Black and 11 percent are Hispanic. A mass vaccination site at Fenway Park is slated to open Feb. 1 for prioritized groups. Another mass vaccination site, at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, is expected to open the first week of February.

i'm black so i'm used to it. but dont try to deflect that racism is imagined.

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Irrelevant, but nice.

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why is this nice ?

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Does that mean vials of vaccine going to waste? Or are they just sitting in freezers? Or did Mass not request/get as many doses as other states?

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Thanks Adam. Tip jar being tickled now.

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But states have been left holding the bag now that the promised distribution plan was BS - remember when we were told that the Dept of Defence would be using their logistics to get the vaccinations distributed and administered and the CDC would be coordinating with state and local health boards? Cause I do

https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/09/16/trump-administration-releases-...

or less than a month ago when they said that they would distribute more (less than 1/2 distributed at this point of the 100 million delivered) and expand eligibility and locations to increase the amount given up to that point (less than 1/2 of the promised "gold standard" 20M).

https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2021/01/13/vaccine-guidelines

Hardly a surprise but the Trump admin dropped the ball and now everyone has to compensate. Hopefully we can make up for lost time or we'll be home until next fall or later (or the virus will mutate and we'll start again)

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How hard would it have been to make a sign up form where you list your age, your town, a couple other sorting questions, and then you'd get notified when you were ready. Instead, even after months of "we're doing testing behind the DPW barn from 2:15 to 3:00 every alternate Tuesday" and such, apparently it's too onerous for the state to streamline it to the point where even us overwhelmed and unconnected slobs can feel like the end might be conceivably be in range of feeling like it's possibly on the verge of being in sight.

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