Barnstable County Joins State Collaborative to Expand Vaccinations

Gov. Charlie Baker

HYANNIS – Governor Charlie Baker has announced $4.7 million for an initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccine equity in the 20 communities most disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

He also unveiled 11 new regional collaboratives to expand vaccinations that includes Barnstable County.

The $4.7 million will go towards supporting vaccine equity initiatives announced last week, which will focus on reducing barriers to vaccination in the most-impacted communities in the state. 

“This will include multilingual vaccine awareness events, services to navigate logistical barriers to the vaccine—especially people who are homebound or otherwise unable to get to a vaccination location—and others who might find certain kind of challenges in front of them that need to be dealt with,” said Baker.

According to the governor, the effort will focus specifically on communities of color, homebound seniors, disabled individuals and other hard-to-reach populations.

The initiative is in addition to a $2.5 million public awareness campaign with respect to vaccine hesitancy already running throughout Massachusetts. 

Baker said that the state is also working on opening more vaccination sites, and he said that currently 95 percent of Massachusetts residents live within a 40 minute drive or within 30 minutes of a regional site.

Baker also announced that the state is working with municipalities to develop regional collaboratives to enable local officials to work to vaccinate residents with high efficiency.

Barnstable County is one such municipality included in the 11 new collaboratives, which will leverage local health officials, regional hospitals and others to create high-throughput vaccination sites beginning March 1.

These collaboratives must meet certain criteria, such as being able to vaccinate a minimum 750 people a day, five days a week, as subject to vaccine availability. 

The collaborative must also be able to meet an administration rate threshold of 85 percent and report doses within 24 hours. 

It also has to provide public links for vaccine appointments on the website, as well as be open to all residents of the Commonwealth, though the collaborative may focus outreach efforts towards those who live or work in the local area. 

Baker said that currently, the state receives about 130,000 first-doses a week, which he said is expected to continue but he hopes for an increase in production and acquisition soon at the federal level.

The Governor said that it will take a month for everyone in the current step of Phase 2 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan to get an appointment without an increase in supply.

He also stressed that the vaccination process is by appointment only.

“Vaccine locations in Massachusetts, all of them, operate by appointment only. If you have an appointment then you’re going to get a vaccine. That’s the way this program is set up,” said Baker.

He said that he is working with tech teams to bolster server capacity for the state’s vaccination website to manage traffic, as well as introduce a digital waiting room to help smooth the online appointment process.

Vaccine appointments can also be booked through the state’s 2-1-1 COVID vaccine hotline, which has been used to book 15,000 appointments since its introduction, said Baker. 

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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