Massachusetts' Move to Shift Vaccine Doses From Hospitals Sparks Outcry

"While demand outstrips supply, we have no choice but to allocate doses based on certain criteria," Massachusetts' secretary of health and human services said Friday

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Some lawmakers and medical experts are criticizing Massachusetts' plan to severely curtail the number of coronavirus vaccine doses distributed to hospitals and health care systems in the coming weeks as it shifts its limited supply to its new mass vaccination sites.

Health officials said the effort will ramp up the inoculation process and help underserved communities, but some observers questioned whether shifting resources to state-run facilities was the best option.

"Mass General, one of the greatest hospitals in the world, is saying they're getting cut off from vaccine doses," said State Sen. Eric Lesser, a Democrat from East Longmeadow. "Meanwhile, we have seniors waiting in the freezing cold at an abandoned Macy's."

Other lawmakers said constituents are already confused and frustrated over the vaccine rollout, adding that the new policy will only make things worse.

"I've heard from many constituents that have been confused and angry trying to access appointments and trying to get the vaccine," said State Rep. Jay Livingstone, a Democrat from Boston.

Hospitals announced Thursday night that patients can no longer schedule first-dose coronavirus vaccine appointments after Massachusetts reduced supply to health systems to distribute them to state-run clinics.

In a statement to lawmakers on Friday, Marylou Sudders, the secretary of health and human services, wrote, in part: "While demand outstrips supply, we have no choice but to allocate doses based on certain criteria: which sites and providers can vaccinate people most quickly, which sites can best serve communities of color hardest hit by COVID, and which sites can best use the doses."

Sudders further explained that while the state now has more vaccination sites, the federal government has not adjusted its allocation to the state, resulting in an increased demand with the same number of doses.

State health officials said they plan to meet with leaders of hospitals shortly to devise a plan to prevent any future inconveniences.

Boston hospitals said the state advised them not to schedule any new vaccine appointments, but said any scheduled appointment doesn't need to be canceled.

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