COVID

Charlie Baker again defends handling of vaccine rollout

Gov. Charlie Baker. Stuart Cahill / Pool, File

Gov. Charlie Baker again defended his administration’s handling of the state’s vaccine rollout efforts during a public hearing Tuesday before a state legislative panel monitoring the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Under both the Trump and Biden administrations, the federal government has distributed vaccines through the same channels we are using: mass vaccination sites, pharmacies, and community health centers,” the Republican said.

He made the comments before a virtual hearing of the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management.

Lawmakers pressed Baker on a range of topics, including the state’s heavy reliance on mass vaccinations sites to get shots into arms despite long-standing plans to rely on the state’s local public health infrastructure in a public health emergency.

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The administration seems to have “thrown the playbook out and decided on something completely different,” said state Sen. Cindy Friedman, an Arlington Democrat.

Baker said shots have been distributed at a range of locations, including mass vaccination sites, hospitals, Walgreens and CVS and regional collaboratives and local health departments.

The immediate goal is to fully vaccinate 4.1 million Massachusetts residents — a number Baker said will effectively constitute herd immunity for the state.

As of Tuesday, 1.1 million Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.

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