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Massachusetts To Focus Vaccine Distribution At Regional Sites Over Town Clinics

BOSTON (CBS) -- Massachusetts announced a "streamlined" vaccine distribution plan on Wednesday that directs COVID-19 vaccine doses toward high capacity sites and away from most smaller town clinics focused on serving only their residents.

The state informed local boards of health that it "prioritizes equity and high-capacity throughout vaccination, particularly as vaccine supply from the federal government remains extremely constrained." The plan will increase vaccine ability for mass vaccination sites, regional sites and pharmacy locations.

Starting March 1, first doses will no longer be provided to municipalities that have individual clinics serving only their residents. That state said it will still make sure to distribute second doses so anyone who had their first appointment can become fully vaccinated.

"Every town around me has prepared themselves and set themselves up ready to vaccinate their own," said Whitman Fire Chief Tim Grenno.

Now towns will have to form a consortium and pool their resources to create bigger, but fewer sites.

"This is where Beacon Hill is out of touch with the residents of Massachusetts," Grenno said. "The 75 years and older residents will not travel to mass vaccination sites."

WBZ-TV heard from towns this week that have been frustrated by a lack of shots sent their way, after being told last summer that they'd be at the front of vaccine distribution. Scituate ran a clinic with 100 doses on Tuesday, and those who received a vaccine were happy with the smooth process.

"People get a little frustrated because they call and our response is we just don't have the vaccine to give out," Town Manager Jim Boudreau said. "If we had it, we would give it."

The state will continue to support regional collaboratives that are open to all Massachusetts residents.

In Marshfield, the town has already turned the fairgrounds into a drive-up site for Plymouth County residents. Now it will grow to be regional

"In order to be a regional site, which we're already somewhat regional because we're Plymouth County, now with Secretary Sudders' new mandate, we would probably become like a state site, but for the southeast region," said Marshfield Town Manager Mike Maresco.

There are 20 municipalities that will continue to get vaccines to distribute because they have had "the greatest COVID burden and have the greatest percentage of non-white residents." They are: Boston; Brockton; Chelsea; Everett; Fall River; Fitchburg; Framingham; Haverhill; Holyoke; Lawrence; Leominster; Lowell; Lynn; Malden; Methuen; New Bedford; Randolph; Revere; Springfield; and Worcester.

Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you're eligible and to book an appointment or call the hotline at 211.


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