A group of Massachusetts community leaders and health care workers are planning a rally at Boston Common on Tuesday to protest the state's handling of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
The Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity, a group that advocates for health equity, organized the rally for noon on Tuesday. The group says the Baker administration's rollout has been marked by inequities in testing and vaccine distribution and a lack of transparency in funding the public health crisis.
The protest will be held as the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response holds its second meeting to examine the state’s at-times criticized vaccine rollout plan.
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The group has blasted the Baker administration's reliance on no-bid contracts to select companies to lead mass vaccination campaigns.
“From the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Governor Baker has excluded the voices of the hardest hit communities, preferring to fill his advisory boards with corporate CEOs and giving no-bid contracts to private corporations instead of using our public health infrastructure and plans designed for a crisis such as this,” said Dr. Amir Mohareb, an infectious disease physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity, said in a public statement released by the group.
“While we welcome the Governor’s recent announcement to partner with community groups to promote vaccine equity, we would like guarantees regarding accountability and allocation of public funds,” Mohareb said.
Earlier this month, Baker defended the vaccine rollout from teachers' criticism that they should have been given vaccine priority earlier.
“I am not going to be in a position where I take vaccine away from people who are extremely vulnerable, who have multiple medical conditions, and are over the age of 65 to give it to a targeted population,” he said at the time. “We’re just not going to play that game.”
Twenty-nine organizations have asked Baker to delay the reopening steps that took effect Monday, by at least at month, to no avail.
Meanwhile, the Hynes Convention Center in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood officially opened Monday as the state's newest mass vaccination site as more essential workers and people 60 and over became eligible to sign up for appointments in Massachusetts.