Gov. Baker Testifies On Massachusetts Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Massachusetts state legislature heard from Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday, as part of the first in a series of oversight hearings on the state's Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Governor Baker acknowledged in his opening remarks that vaccine distribution has not been a smooth process in the Commonwealth, describing it as "lumpy and bumpy."

He said the crash of the vaccine registration website at the beginning of Phase II was "a nightmare for many, for which there is no excuse.”

Members of the state Committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management shared criticisms of the system, including State Senator Eric Lesser of Longmeadow.

“It has not been lumpy and bumpy – it has been a failure," Lesser said. "And my constituents and all of our constituents are justifiably outraged, and are asking why the governor of Massachusetts, in the healthcare and technology capitol of the country, cannot figure out how to operate a website.”

State Senator Cindy Friedman of the 4th Middlesex District echoed a similar sentiment, saying that "many people feel anxious, jerked around, and completely unsure of how to navigate [the state's vaccine] system, and that’s just not okay.”

When asked by Committee Vice Chair John Santiago on how he determined whether the rollout was equitable, Governor Baker highlighted the state's early efforts to target high-risk populations.

"I would argue the work we did to promote the importance for staff in the long term care community to get vaccinated -- that was a primary effort on our part to make sure that we dealt with many of the communities that probably weren't going to end up on anyone's list coming out of the gate," Baker said.

Baker added that he believes some of the issues with inconsistency in the state's vaccine distribution plan come down to supply issues.

"Some of that are driven by the fact that we do have limited supply, and we don't always know and haven't always known since the beginning of this what we were going to get week to week," Baker said. "And it was important for us to be able to try to move [the doses] to places where we thought we would be able to put it to work."

Thursday's hearing comes as 50,000 new vaccine appointments were added to the state's website and were completely filled by around 9:30 a.m., with the state again crediting the issue to a limited supply.

According to the CDC, Massachusetts is #1 for first doses administered per capita among the U.S. states with populations of 5 million people.

WBZ NewsRadio's Mike Macklin (@mikemacklinwbz) reports.

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Written by Rachel Armany

(Photo: Getty Images)

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