Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Issues COVID Report Card for Gov. Baker

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky Visits FEMA Vaccination Site In Boston

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BOSTON (WBZNewsRadio) - The Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition has released a report card on the Baker Administration's COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The report card breaks it down into four categories: Addressing Historical and Present-day Context, Community Collaboration, Accountability and Implementation.

The report found when it comes to addressing historical and present-day context "the Baker administration failed to follow through on critical aspects of the COVID-19 Advisory Group's plan, such as the promised 20% additional vaccine dose allocation for the hardest-hit communities beginning in Phase 2, when vaccines were scarce." The report gave the Baker administration a D.

When it came to community collaboration, the administration received a C, after the group reported "collaboration and investment in community-based organizations came late to the state's vaccine distribution plan."

Accountability earned the Baker administration an F.

"Because the Baker administration has not collected statutorily required data, Massachusetts is unable to assess the disparate impact of COVID-19 by language, occupation, or disability status. For example, DPH ceased reporting demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalization rates in July 2021. Once DPH reinstated reporting, it did so using a different methodology. As a result, hospitalization rates cannot be tracked back by any demographic variables, including age, gender, race, and ethnicity. However, the State has never collected nor reported data on any of these demographics." The report stated.

As for outcome, the group gave the administration a D, saying the administration discarded plans by agencies like the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency along with state and local health departments and instead relied heavily on mass vaccination sites. The group said these sites "favored those who had access to private transportation, disproportionately harming people of color, immigrant communities, and low-income workers."

Meantime, the Legislature's COVID-19 committee released a report and 16 recommendations this week, that members said would put the state in better standing to deal with future pandemics or catastrophic events.

The 52-page report and 16 policy and regulatory recommendations from The Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management, looked at everything from the organizational structure of the state's response, to the rollout of vaccines and information, as well as the role of local boards of health and the data collection and reporting.

The committee also called for a "statewide after-action-report" to look in detail at the steps the state's government took and did not take, as the pandemic unfolded since 2020.

Among the recommendations from the committee is the state identify "sufficient funding streams" and expand regional initiatives to strengthen local and regional public health infrastructure "so local officials can lead and plan for local emergency response."

On Wednesday the Baker administration announced another $7 million in funding for COVID-19 vaccine equity efforts, which addresses some the areas of concern raised by the committee.

Also released this week was a report from The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association. The "Better Together" report details from a health care industry perspective the "critical lessons that should be used to both prepare for the next public health crisis and improve the system as a whole."

The report stated health care is "forever changed" after the health crisis.

WBZ's James Rojas (@JamesRojasNews) reports

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