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Mass. Governor Grilled By State Lawmakers On COVID Vaccine Rollout

BOSTON (CBS) - Governor Charlie Baker faced tough questions from state lawmakers in a legislative hearing Thursday. State Senator Eric Lesser, who's been critical of the state's vaccine website, accused Baker of being slow to address problems. "Will you say sorry to the million people?" The governor answered, "Of course, absolutely, definitely yes."

The head of the Chelsea Collaborative, which runs a clinic in one of the state's hardest hit communities was in tears when she testified. "It's very hard because I convince them," said Gladys Vega, about residents who are hesitant at first, to get the shot. "But then I have to wait for an appointment in a system that doesn't work."

The hearing before the legislature's Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness had the Governor defending the state's record. He said Massachusetts is at the top of the country for first vaccination shots among states with five million people or more.

Lawmakers pushed back. "Frankly, I'm just baffled at what we've been through," said Sen. Cindy Friedman, a Democrat from Middlesex County. "Including this morning's issues with the website and 211," said Jo Comerford, who's the Senate Chair of the Committee.

The governor offered his thoughts on why the state looked slow out-of-the-gate. "Massachusetts chose early on to prioritize communities that weren't prioritized in other states. That did make us look, if you just base it on the numbers, like a low performer relative to many other states," he said.

Also in the hot seat, the creator of the state's online vaccination booking system PrepMod, Tiffany Tate, who said health officials did not buy into all of its services at first. "They had to make decisions based on limited and incremental funding of their pandemic response," she said.

Later in the afternoon, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders testified. When pressed by Sen. Comerford about problems with the website, Sudders said she takes responsibility.

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