Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said he is "pissed off" about the state's vaccine scheduling website, which crashed Thursday morning as people 65 and over, and people with two comorbidities became eligible to schedule their coronavirus vaccines. Here's what Baker told Boston Public Radio Thursday.
On the state website crash Thursday morning, as millions more residents became eligible to sign up for their COVID-19 vaccines:
People 65 years and older and those with two or more comorbidities became eligible to schedule their COVID-19 vaccine Thursday morning, and newly eligible residents flooded the state's scheduling website, causing it to crash. The majority of the expected 70,000 appointments had not been released as of Thursday afternoon.
"My hair is on fire about the whole thing. I can't even begin to tell you how pissed off I am," he said.
"People did a lot of scenario work ... obviously the scenario work that was done didn't adequately prepare the site for what happened when 8 a.m. rolled around this morning," he said. "This is not satisfactory. It's awful, and it's going to get fixed. I'm going to work very hard to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Baker said 20,000 appointments have been released since the site got back up and running late Thursday morning and said the remaining 50,000 expected appointments would be released soon.
On the prospects of a centralized pre-registration:
"We're looking at it, and we'll have more to say about it over the course of the next few weeks," he said. "We have way more sites, a lot more people, it's a little more complicated to set this up in Massachusetts the way you'd set it up in smaller states. But I do think it's a topic of conversation and discussion among our team, and we'll have more to say about it shortly, before we get into some of the big population groups."
Baker said he hoped to have enough supply to get into broader population groups in the next four-to-six weeks.
On vaccine supply:
Baker said the state is still only allowed to order vaccine in one-week quantities, generally giving Massachusetts 120,000 doses weekly.
"If the feds would give us permission to order three weeks worth of vaccine, we would give people a three-week window of scheduling appointments," he said. "We could literally extend the enrollment period more than a week, and put it out there two or three weeks, which I think would make it easier for people to both plan, and also schedule appointments."
Baker said he is hoping the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one dose, is approved by the FDA.
On teacher vaccination eligiblity:
Baker has faced a push from teachers, and now Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano, to place teachers higher up on the state's eligibility list in an effort to get students back to classrooms. Baker said he placed them where they are in the state's plan — in the third priority group in Phase 2 — based on CDC guidelines calling for prioritization of people 65 years and older and those with comorbidities.
"Teachers are part of the first group of working people who are in line after that," he said. "So that's with transit workers, grocery workers, and a whole host of other people who are in fields people felt were important to get vaccinated. But I do think it's important to remind people that the commonwealth next week is going to start a pooled testing program, I believe the first in the nation, for school districts that will test every week the adults and the kids in the classrooms. And we’ve had hundreds of school districts and schools that are very interested in doing this, and we’re very excited about the possibility of being able to make a regular weekly testing program available to these folks."
On whether he has been vaccinated himself:
"I'm not old enough," he said. "I'm 64."