The Arguments for and Against Opening Vaccinations to 65+ in Mass. Right Now

In all or parts of about three dozen states, people 65 or older are already eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

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As the race to get as many people vaccinated as possible continues, there's no expert consensus over whether the next group of seniors in Massachusetts should be allowed to get the vaccine yet.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday he's not ready to expand eligibility to those who are 65 or older -- even though he said nearly half of the 430,000 Massachusetts residents who are 75 or older have gotten their first shot. 

"That's a big number but I think we'll probably want to leave it open for a little while longer to see if some more 75-year-old folks sign up," Baker said.

But Massachusetts is in the minority here.

In all or parts of about three dozen states, people 65 or older are already eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

"It is frustrating to see that other states have been able to get more shots in arms faster than we have," said Broad Institute scientist John Doench.

N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu lowered the minimum age for receiving a vaccine from 75 to 65, a change that will take effect later this week.

He said he's been watching as the pace of vaccine sign-ups have slowed dramatically -- leaving thousands of slots open across the state, according to the dashboard.

"We can't let completion of one group completely stall the ability for the next group of folks to start getting vaccinated," Doench said.

Clo Savoie, a 69-year-old Auburn resident, said she and her 72-year-old husband Doug are trying to be as patient as possible.

"The sooner the better for everyone, we need all the help we can get," Savoie said.

Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh said it's also important to keep in mind that, even though people 65+ are eligible in other states, it doesn't mean they're actually getting appointments -- supply is still not where it needs to be.

"It would be much worse if we had tons of vaccine and tons of infrastructure and nobody was showing up," he said.

That can be equally frustrating.

"We're going to get there," said Hirsh, "it's just going to be a little bumpy until probably Phase 2 is done."

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