Charlie Baker

Gov. Charlie Baker Faces Criticism Over Mass. Vaccine Rollout

The vaccination rollout in Massachusetts is sparking criticism of Gov. Charlie Baker from state lawmakers and communities of color

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is being criticized widely this week over the state's vaccine rollout.

In one of the cities hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, Methuen officials were relieved, finally, to get a state allocation of 100 vaccines per week.

"But then suddenly, the governor ripped the rug out from under us," said Methuen City Council Vice chair D.J. Beauregard. "Our dose allocation gets cut to zero? Give me a break. It's a damn travesty."

Many clinics in Massachusetts cities and towns have learned they will not be receiving coronavirus vaccines as the state takes the lead.

That's just one example of the earful Baker is getting this week. The criticism is coming from the congressional delegation, state lawmakers and from communities of color.

"It's been a terrible embarrassment for the state," Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz said.

Chang Diaz is part of the new "Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition," comprised of civil rights and public health experts who say there is dramatic racial inequity in the rollout.

Among other demands, they're calling for a vaccine czar.

"The plan that they put out, I hesitate to even call it a plan because they are just so short on specifics," Chang Diaz said. "It is so little, so late."

The legislature announced oversight hearings to investigate the rollout. Baker says he looks forward to that. As for the criticism, he points out that Massachusetts is the only state that prioritized the mental health, prison and homeless communities.

"Keep in mind that we said at the beginning of this process that we were going to be slow out of the gate because we were focused on some hard-to-reach populations," Baker said.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Massachusetts significantly improving, now 10th in the country for vaccinations per capita — but that has done little to quell the criticism this week.

"He ran as Mr. Manager. He ran as someone coming out of health care, administration," said UMass Boston professor Erin O'Brien. "And by all accounts, he's failing."

O'Brien believes Baker can recover from this, but it is the toughest time he has experienced in his six years in office.

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