By Jack Callahan
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has released a three phase plan for distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine beginning with phase one starting this week.
According to a press release on mass.gov, the Baker-Polito Administration said the first shipment of 60,000 vaccines should arrive on December 15th. By the end of the month the state can expect to have 300,000 vaccines. The initial vaccine shipment will be directly delivered to 21 hospitals across eight counties in the state and from there will be redistributed to 74 hospitals across all 14 counties.
Once received, phase one will begin immediately which will provide vaccines to healthcare workers and first responders. This phase is expected to take place from December to February. The vaccine will be administered in two doses with the second dose three to four weeks after the first dose.
Phase two is planned to take place from February to April 2021 and will provide the vaccine to high risk individuals, educators, grocery workers, public workers and adults 65 and older. Phase three is scheduled to start in April and will provide the vaccine to the general public.
Phase three is variable to change over the next several months. In video footage of a press conference given by Governor Baker on December 9th where Baker announced this plan he said, “It’s still too early and there are too many variables that are still being worked out to say exactly when this stage [phase three] of the process would get underway. But our estimate is that this segment of the population will start getting vaccinated sometime in the spring.”
In the meantime, Governor Baker says we should continue to wear face coverings, avoid groups and work to stop the spread.
It was also announced that the vaccine will be provided free of charge and insurance companies will not charge any out of pocket cost of copayment.
Sean Flood is an 18 year old senior at North Attleboro High School and also works at a grocery store, which means he may be eligible for vaccination in phase two. “I’m hoping that I can get the vaccine soon, as an employee I interact with a lot of customers and am always concerned that I might catch it so getting the vaccine would be really helpful,” Sean said.
Most students at North Attleboro High School will not be getting the vaccine for a while since trials are still being conducted on vaccinating children and teenagers.
Sam Foley, a senior at North, said, “I’m hoping that the trials are done soon so that I can get the vaccine. If not I hope that enough people get it to the point we can return to normal life by the summer.”
If the vaccine distribution goes to plan it is expected we will have herd immunity by June, setting up students for a return to a normal school year next fall. All of this is subject to change so to stay up to date on the vaccine in Massachusetts check Mass.gov for the latest updates.