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Springfield city councilors urge Gov. Charlie Baker to expand COVID vaccine availability (MassLive)

Read the original MassLive story by Pete Goonan here.

SPRINGFIELD —- A group of 10 city councilors submitted a plea to Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday, urging him to spread his coronavirus vaccine program to reach all neighborhoods of the city. The councilors said it is “illogical” for the state to think that the nearly 160,000 residents of the city can be served by a single mass COVID-19 site now operated by the state at the Eastfield Mall on Boston Road. A localized vaccine distribution plan with multiple neighborhood clinics is needed “to ensure equity and access,” the councilors said. The emailed letter was sent to Baker and state Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. It was signed council President Marcus Williams, and councilors Jesse Lederman, Tracye Whitfield, Justin Hurst, Sean Curran, Michael Fenton, Melvin Edwards, Malo Brown, Victor Davila and Timothy Allen. Lederman, chairman of the council’s COVID-19 Response Committee, said there should be a vaccination clinic “accessible to every neighborhood in Springfield.” “We can’t rely solely on one mass vaccination site that is also being utilized by the entire region and in some cases the entire state,” Lederman said, in a prepared release. “It has been our constituents and neighbors who have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. As more and more residents become eligible for the vaccine under the state’s phased rollout, we need transparency around the state’s actual capacity to ensure that they actually have access to the shots.” The councilors urged the state to move swiftly to provide funds directly to cities such as Springfield to allow local boards of health to provided a local distribution plan. “Mass Vaccination sites can serve a purpose, but they cannot be the only option for cities the size of Springfield,” the councilors said. Williams said that equitable access to vaccines and testing must be a priority. “There are barriers that exist for Springfield residents and not everyone can get to one mass site,” Williams said. “This is a critical point where we should also be aware of how many people are getting vaccinated in our city in an attempt to stop the spread.” He called on the state and federal government to “step up to the plate” to ensure that Springfield has the doses and other resources needed to protect the public. The councilors also asked the Baker administration to provide information about the current mall vaccination site:

  • How many Springfield residents have received vaccinations through the state’s Mass Vaccination Program, and what statistical information is available regarding those participants?

  • How many of those residents received their vaccine at the Eastfield Mall?

  • How many vaccines is the state receiving weekly, and how many doses of vaccine does the state anticipate receiving in the months ahead?

  • How many of these vaccine doses can Springfield anticipate receiving for a localized vaccine distribution effort?

City councilors invited members of the state administration to attend the next weekly COVID-19 Response meeting Feb. 9, at 4:30 p.m., conducted by remote due to the pandemic.

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