Massachusetts has already paid more than $4 million to three companies to set up a call center to manage the scramble for coronavirus vaccine appointments the day after hundreds of thousands of older residents became eligible, and the tab is expected to grow, according to a published report.
Marylou Sudders, the state's health secretary, signed all three contracts Feb. 23, but the companies began incurring costs related to the call center on Jan. 28, the day after people 75 and older became eligible for vaccines, dramatically increasing demand and frustrations over the difficulty in scheduling appointments, The Boston Globe reported.
Some state lawmakers are questioning the haste in which the contracts were signed. "It sounds to me like they basically were caught unprepared and pulled the fire alarm and just started signing contracts to get the thing up and running as fast as they could,'' Democratic state Sen. Eric Lesser said.
A spokesperson for the state COVID-19 Command Center said the state signed short-term contracts with the three companies as a temporary solution, with plans to hold a competitive bid for the long-term contract.
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She added that the call center so far has helped more than 50,000 people get appointments.