By SCOTT JACKSON
Massachusetts residents over the age of 65 and those with two or more health conditions that put them at severe risk of severe COVID-19 complications can get vaccinated starting Thursday.
Those two groups include more than one million residents, Gov. Charlie Baker said at a press conference Wednesday. He urged patience and said it could more than a month for those individuals to get their shots.
“The demand is so much greater than the supply we are getting at this time,” Baker said.
“We have to ask everybody to be patient. There is going to be vaccine eventually for everyone and everyone will get an appointment. It’s just going to take a little while.”
The state has been receiving 110,000 first doses each week from the federal government in recent weeks, Baker said. Marylou Sudders, the state’s health and human services secretary, on Wednesday said federal officials have told the state Massachusetts would receive 139,000 first doses next week.
Residents over the age of 65 and those with two or more comorbidities that put them at high risk for severe COVID-19 complications are the second groups within phase two of the state’s plan to get access to the vaccine.
Residents over the age of 75 were the first group in the second phase to get access to the vaccine, becoming eligible to do so on Feb. 1. Baker said 251,000 residents within that group had gotten at least one shot as of Wednesday, representing more than half of the individuals within that group.
Overall, 1.1 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts to date. Baker said Massachusetts has administered the most total doses per capita of the 24 states with more than five million residents.
Appointments can be booked online at mass.gov/covidvaccine. Residents without internet access can call 2-1-1 for assistance scheduling an appointment.
The state is using CDC guidelines to determine which health conditions put residents at high risk for severe COVID-19 complications. The state has also identified moderate to severe asthma as an eligible health condition.
The other eligible health conditions are: cancer; chronic kidney disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Down syndrome; heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathies; immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant; obesity and severe obesity (a BMI of 30kg/m2 or higher); pregnancy; sickle cell disease; smoking; and type two diabetes.
Two more groups remain in phase two: certain essential workers, including teachers and public health and public works employees, followed by individuals with one comorbidity.
The general public would become eligible for the vaccine in phase three.