Some Massachusetts hospital leaders and physicians said they disagree with a plan by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker to halt vaccine distribution to hospitals and primary care offices so they can place the focus on vaccination sites.
But the state’s top health official said hospitals were scheduling more vaccine appointments than the state’s supply of vaccine against COVID-19 could meet.
“We all need to understand that we have a limited supply,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
“The demand is great and the supply from the federal government is flat — 108,000 doses a week,” she said. “We want to ensure that we have the supply to meet scheduled appointments.”
Dr. David Rosman, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, told The Boston Globe he feared the state had chosen “efficiency at the cost of equity.” He said some communities of color are more likely to trust their physicians.
“People have a trusting relationship with their doctor, and when their doctor says, ‘This is safe and as soon as my family is eligible I will get it for them,’ then patients are more willing,” he said.
On Thursday, the state told Massachusetts hospitals to stop scheduling new vaccine appointments. The state intends to focus on on mass vaccination sites, retail pharmacies and community health centers until more vaccine is available.
Once the next vaccine is authorized, possibly later this month, more vaccine will be available for hospitals.
Other coronavirus news in New England:
The University of Maine men's basketball team is ending its 2020-2021 season because of challenges posed by COVID-19.
The team, which had played nine games this season, had not been cleared for practice or competition since Jan. 17.
The final decision to end the season was made by the team Friday.
“Our players’ safety and well-being will always come first,” said head Coach Richard Barron. “We simply could not safely put a team on the floor over the next few weeks or safely return players to playing after over six weeks off."
Athletic Director Ken Ralph praised the decision, saying the physical and mental health of those involved is the most important thing.
“With the constant interruptions to their season, it would be tough to prepare again for the rigors of Division I competition," Ralph said. “Without knowing when we may be cleared to field a team again, we must also be fair to the other league members as they look to schedule the remainder of their seasons.”
The Manchester VA Medical Center is holding a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic for veterans.
The clinic is running Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:35 p.m. at the Manchester hospital. It is first-come, first-served for veterans ages 65 and older who are enrolled for VA health care. The clinic will close once the vaccine supply is exhausted.
Veterans getting the vaccine must commit to a second dose, which will be administered March 14 at the same location.
Veterans will receive the Moderna vaccine.
A nursing organization that operates in Vermont and New Hampshire is working to vaccinate people in who cannot leave their homes.
In its first week, Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire vaccinated more than 200 Vermonters.
The organization finalizing a plan to bring those vaccines to New Hampshire, Director of External Relations and Service Excellence Hilary Davis told WMUR-TV.
“It is being talked about. It’s not being ignored,” Davis said. “We just haven’t really come up with a defined plan yet.”
The state of Vermont contracted Visiting Nurse and Hospice and others to deliver the vaccine.
Davis said the vaccine recipients have been grateful.
“They’ve been living in fear and just really worried, and now they’re much more at peace just knowing that this is available,” she said.
Rosemarie Duffy is one of these recipients, and she was vaccinated on her birthday.
“It’s the best birthday I’ve had in years.” Duffy said. “I don’t care if nothing else happens today. This happened.”
VNH will be back at Duffy’s house in the next few weeks for her second dose.