Charlie Baker

Vaccine deliveries to Mass. towns will be capped through February as state loosens restrictions and lags behind on rollout

Local health departments are limited to only 100 Moderna doses a week.

A woman holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health told state communities Sunday night that they must limit their orders of COVID-19 vaccine doses through February, The Boston Globe reports.

The memo from assistant commissioner Jana Ferguson told municipal health departments that vaccine deliveries will be capped because of a shortage of supply from the federal government.

Only 100 Moderna does will be available to cities and towns each week, the memo said, but local health directors told the Globe that they’re already burning through their much larger orders. Cambridge, for example, ordered 1,000 doses earlier this month and has already used all of them.

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Local health departments administered 6% of the total doses given in the state as of last Thursday. Hospitals are responsible for nearly two-thirds of all shots in Massachusetts.

The sudden news comes as the state relaxes pandemic-related restrictions and continues to lag behind other states on its vaccine rollout. Gov. Charlie Baker’s 9:30 p.m. business curfew and nighttime stay-at-home advisory was lifted Monday.

Meanwhile, only 5.2% of state residents have received at least one shot as of Sunday, putting the commonwealth behind 29 other states including populous ones like Florida and New York. Only 49% of doses delivered to the state — hundreds of thousands — have actually gone into residents’ arms, which lands Massachusetts behind 37 others despite having some of the country’s most renowned hospitals.

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Globe review of the state’s sluggish rollout points to the lack of a centralized registration portal, outdated and slow paper-based methods for transmitting local health data, and rigid priorities in Baker’s intricate three-phase vaccination plan as contributors to the problem.

Local communities are antsy for more doses, especially as the state prepares for Phase 2 of the rollout next week, which will eventually allow a much larger population to get shots including teachers, transit workers, food service workers, people over 65, and people with comorbidities.

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