Gov. Baker today announced a phased approach to distribution of impending Covid-19 vaccine through next summer, starting this month with front-line hospital workers, followed by residents and workers at long-term care facilities, then first responders, people in prisons and homeless shelters, home-based health-care workers and, if there is enough vaccine left, health-care workers doing non-Covid-19 work.
Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said that front-line healthcare workers will include custodians and dietary workers who come into contact with patients, not just doctors, nurses and technicians. Bake said the first 60,000 doses could be ready for them by next week.
Baker said the state submitted its first formal order for vaccine orders to the CDC on Friday and that it expects to get up to a total of 300,000 doses by the end of the month.
Baker said that starting roughly in February, as more vaccine doses are shipped to Massachusetts, vaccination would be opened to a wider group that includes people with two or more "comorbidities" or underlying conditions, people who work in critical industries - including transit, schools, supermarkets, public health and public works, people over 65 and, if there's enough vaccine, people with just one serious underlying condition.
Finally, starting in roughly April, vaccinations would be made available to anybody who wants the shots.
Baker emphasized the timeline could be changed depending on such factors as federal approval of additional vaccines beyond the initial vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and the Rev. Liz Walker, a member of the governor's vaccine task force, emphasized that "equity" will be a key part of vaccine distribution, in particular in the early phases - members of racial and ethnic groups that have been disproportionately hit by Covid-19 will be particularly targeted with information to try to convince them to get shots.
Walker acknowledged that some of these groups might be hesitant to get shots promoted by government and that part of her work will be to convince people the vaccine will help protect them, not hurt them.
"I think there's a lot of skepticism, still," she said. "I think [convincing people] is going to take a lot of work."
Dr. Paul Biddinger, director of disaster medicine at MGH, and chairman of the vaccine task force, said that people who have had diagnosed Covid-19 within past 3 months should wait until 3 months have past to get a shot; people who have had a case more than 3 months ago can get a shot right away, if they're in one of the groups for which shots are available at that point.
He added that some people may have side effects from the vaccine, including feeling like they're coming down with something, especially after the second dose. He said that's actually a good sign, that the person's immune system is kicking in.
Missing from the state timeline are vaccines for children. Biddinger said trials of the vaccines were in adults, so the state has no word yet on whether and how kids should get shots.
More details on state plan.