Massachusetts will begin to vaccinate police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders next week, said Gov. Charlie Baker during a press conference on Monday from the State House.
The state is reaching out to local officials and private first responder companies to set up on-site vaccination programs for groups of over 200 individuals upon request. There will also be 60 sites set up for first responders to make appointments for the vaccine and a few large-scale sites where mass vaccinations will be available for drop-in vaccinations.
"Police officers, firefighters, EMTs and our first responders work in risky situations every day, and this vaccine will protect them from COVID and the terrible illnesses that can come with it," Baker said.
While vaccinations for first responders get underway in phase one of the rollout, the state is also updating its plan for phase 2 to allow more older residents to get vaccinated earlier. All individuals 75 years and older will now be prioritized in phase 2, instead of waiting for phase 3, regardless of medical history or comorbidity issues that could make COVID-19 more deadly. Likewise, residents with two or more comorbidities, regardless of age, are also being moved from phase 3 to phase 2.
"This change impacts approximately 170,000 individuals ages 75 and older, who were not already included in this phase two, group one, based on their comorbidity status," Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said of the changes.
Baker also sounded off on the attempts by President Donald Trump and other Republicans to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election by pressuring state elections officials and contesting the election results when Congress certifies them.
"I think the noise and the accusations and the commentary about challenging this or that is an affront to democracy and to the voice of the people who turned out in record numbers in this election to support a whole bunch of candidates up and down the ticket." Baker said.
The governor, a moderate Republican who's been at odds with Trump and his allies since 2016, said he hopes initiatives to overturn the election fail and the orderly transition to the Biden administration continues.
"For the life of me, I can't figure out how people in my party can say all the other elections in which their folks barely won were fine and the only one that they seem to have any concerns about is the one at the top of the ticket," Baker said.