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State says people over 65 or with two underlying conditions can start rolling up their sleeves on Thursday - or at least try to get an appointment

COVID-19 Update: February 17, 2021

Gov. Baker announced today the state is lowering the age of eligibility for Covid-19 vaccinations from 75 to 65 and will allow anybody with two or more state-defined comorbidities to sign up for vaccination, starting Thursday morning.

The expansion of the state's shot-worthy still doesn't include either teachers. But Gov. Baker said that moderate to severe asthma is now on the list of diseases that count as an underlying condition.

Baker said that not everybody in the newly expanded list will be able to get a shot right away because we're just not getting enough vaccine from the federal government; he estimated it could take a month for everybody who wants one. He said the state is currently getting 110,000 first-dose shots a week from the feds.

He said the new guidelines will add 1 million people to the list of eligible shot getters.

Baker said the state this week will add slots at CVS pharmacies to its signup site. And he said that the once sluggish state is now among the top 10 states for first shots.

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Comments

Each day MA overtakes another state at number of people vaccinated and percentage of shots used vs the number delivered. There's still a long way to go but the improvements over the past few weeks have been substantial.

There's too much fussing over who is or is not eligible. The important thing to use close to 100% of doses delivered. The only wasted shot is the one left on the shelf. The more people vaccinated, the safer everyone will be and the quicker things can return to normal.

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If not enough people in one priority group show up, you go to the next group. And then to the next. And then to anyone off the street. The vaccines won't wait for the "right people".

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But what I will tell you ... the "lets get more 75+" was a stalling tactic for "we don't have 2.5 million doses for the next group and won't for a few weeks until the grownups who just took over start weeting vaccine across America".

Also a heads up to all: MA and many other states did not get their shipments this week yet because of the massive weather clusterfucks going down.

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...to be vaccinated carry over from the 75-and-older phase?

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Nope, that only still applies those accompanying someone in the 75+ group.

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...I’m in this new group and don’t drive. I’m also in a area where there are few places offering the shots and none of them are accessible to public transportation. In fact, if I have to rely on public transportation, it would be easier to get to Fenway.

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Well someone can still take you, they just have to wait until their group is eligible to get a vaccine for themselves.

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is smoking. Not heart or lung problems caused by smoking, just the fact that you're a smoker, along with one of the other risk factors.

I understand what they're trying to do, but given that people tried to game the "bring a 75-year-old to get vaccinated and we'll vaccinate you!" plan, I do have to wonder how many people are going to take up smoking in the next 24 hours.

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The cheeseburgers and the ciggies, but I'm sure I'll be an obese smoker by Thursday.

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By the time you actually get an appointment, you'll have cancer and a heart attack.

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I've actually found funny. :-)

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I've been really disappointed with this "personal risk of death"-based policy for the vaccine rollout. It seems like it was intuitive, so that's why they chose it. If certain people are most at risk for bad outcomes, then they should get the vaccine first so they have much lower risk of dying, right? It just "makes sense" when you think about it or say it.

But actually...

The problem with this disease isn't the morbidity. Even for those most at-risk of dying from it, it's a low risk. The biggest risk factor is age and 80+ people still only have like a 10% chance of death after acquiring the virus. That's a huge risk over background (accounting for about 20% more deaths last year than the average from the previous 5 years for people 75+) but this isn't 80 year olds giving it to other 80 year olds.

The problem is transmissibility of this virus is so damn high due to its symptom profile and efficacy of transmission. And THAT is where a scientific-led policy would have targeted. Workers who can't stay home, work in close conditions with others or around the public, then return to their homes...like service workers, delivery staff, public transit employees, agricultural/food workers, grocers, restaurant staff, should have been in Phase 1 along with the first responders and medical staff who were. Yes, it means some 20-something is going to get it before your grandma, but it means that 20-something won't give it to your grandma when she brings her groceries into her house for her. We need to destroy the virus's ability to network and that makes us all safer while waiting for more vaccine to come out.

My parents got everything delivered this past year. They very infrequently ever left their house. Vaccinating them feels good, but does little to prevent the virus from continuing to spread. But I'd rather my bus driver have it than my parents if we're actually trying to stop the spread of the virus.

The CDC woke up to this but only because many of those same roles are "essential workers", meaning if they get sick and/or die, then society could collapse. But the point is that it also means they're around more of society and become critical positions for transmission of the virus between others even if they don't get sick enough to harm productivity.

But Baker et al have put these groups of essential workers at the end of Phase 2! Which means I'll get the vaccine just to keep working at home before a transit worker that has to drive in a metal box with who knows how many infected people every day. It's insane!

Next pandemic, let's let science drive the bus, please.

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It's much easier to verify someone's age than occupation.

If people were trustworthy and socially conscious, it would be reasonable to just open it up to the entire population but ask that only people in high-contact jobs go first. But that would never work in practice.

Age is the biggest risk factor and is easy to verify. It's not a perfect system but it's a quick way to sort the population. And speed is really important.

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Those most likely to die (elders) and those with highest exposures (health care workers) are in the first groups, then after we get the comorbidities and 65+? Retail and food workers.

It reflects both spread and vulnerability.

Easy to say "let science drive the bus" - much harder to enforce that when everyone is special and should be next and is better than those fat, poor, smoking people and more deserving and and and me and my and ...

(slight modifications based on ST's comment, below)

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The huge problem with vaccinating to reduce transmissibility is that neither the Pfizer nor Moderna clinical trials evaluated vaccine effect on transmissibility. Nor did they evaluate vaccine effect on number of asymptomatic cases. All of their data and analysis was based on looking for reductions in symptomatic cases.

Is it likely that vaccinating 20-year-old grocery delivery people would reduce the risk of them passing Covid to their homebound elderly customers? Yeah, probably. Is there clinical trial data to prove it? No.

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“Yes, it means some 20-something is going to get it before your grandma, but it means that 20-something won't give it to your grandma when she brings her groceries into her house for her.”

That’s just a theory so far. It’s not known yet if being vaccinated means you can’t spread it.

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Like at least 1?

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According to the Mass website there is no verification on comorbidities. So you don't need to do anything, just make an appointment and pick one or two things from the list.

It's a lot easier than trying to find a 75+ to drive to an appointment.

EDIT: This comment was snark at this aspect of the state regulation. If there's no verification, it's kinda pointless and they might as well just open it up to the whole population.

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I have long been annoyed to have my high bone/muscle density self BMI-classified as "obese" even though I don't even wear plus size pants, but this time I will accept that classification.

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My doctor has never once said anything to me about my weight, but when I saw the different conditions listed on the vaccination plan, I figured I'd look and see what my BMI is and hey, what do you know, I'm considered obese.

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He says we’re currently getting 110,000 first-dose shots per week. He says the latest change adds 1 million people to the eligibility list. And he estimates it could take a month for everyone who wants a shot to get one.

Is he assuming less than 50% of eligible people want shots? Or is he assuming that a month is 7 or 8 weeks long? (Which I’ll admit is approximately how long they feel, during winter in a pandemic.) Or is he counting on vaccine deliveries to double, which seems very optimistic?

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The feds have said the number of available doses is going to continue increasing so Baker might be factoring that into his statement.

He also knows that not everyone eligible is going to want it. I personally know a few people in the 65+ group who are waiting or declining.

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There is no way to do it otherwise because we need about 2-2.5 million doses to cover the next crowd scene.

And those doses have to be available in time for second doses.

I won't say how much it is going up, but it will be going way up because the Fed is pulling out all the stops to get this vaccine out to states.

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I miss the old Red Sox Virtual Waiting Room, so now everyone gets to recreate that experience, except the booby prize isn't "you get stuck with early April Oriole games" but "you might die"

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“ You will not need copies of medical records or a note from your doctor or health care provider to confirm you are eligible for these groups.”

As if the companion policy wasn’t bad enough. Now we have this new opportunity for scammers and liars self identifying as having 2 comorbidities and no documentation to grab vaccines and appointments that should be going to people genuinely suffering from 2 comorbidities.

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You assume a significant number of people are abhorrent individuals, at least a significant enough number to have a true negative impact.

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I don’t know if this new loophole will or will not have a “true negative impact”. I’m not psychic.

I do know many people are in a frenzy to get vaccinated and with no repercussions for lying the temptation will be difficult to resist.

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It was not my intent to associate anything with your words that I did not think your words meant. It may reflect upon me far more than it does on you. Let me make them my words.

My hope is that your concerns were considered but were determined to be unlikely to cause a negative impact on our efforts. Our resources are limited. If the costs of verification outweigh any benefits (which are really negative effects mitigated) then it makes no sense to do it.

It's similar to how when BPS stopped charging any students for school meals, they saved money, because (unfortunately) so many families qualified for free and reduced lunches, or fell just above those limits and still could not pay the full amount. By not even trying to collect money from anyone, including those with the means to pay in full, they still brought in more revenue than having payment at the register.

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...I'm "genuinely suffering from 2 comorbidities" and I say fuckit. Go read William Gibson's "The Peripheral" and pay attention to "the jackpot". The past few decades have seen an insane transfer of wealth to the top, and now "the jackpot" for them is a whole lotta the rest of us dying off. All going according to plan...

p.s. I didn't get a cute octopus, I got a whole lot of different error screens which I'm screenshotting for posterity but which all add up to "yeahno we couldn't be arsed to do this right".

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The expansion of the state's shot-worthy still doesn't include either teachers. But Gov. Baker said that moderate to severe asthma is now on the list of diseases that count as an underlying condition.

Adam, was that supposed to be "either teachers or [some other group]?"

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