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Massachusetts finalizes COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans

Sera Congi
 |  WCVB-TV

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BOSTON — Massachusetts should see its first COVID-19 vaccines by the middle of this month, with 300,000 units expected by the end of the year.

Those most at risk will be prioritized, but crafting a system to distribute those doses will be daunting.

Dr. Paul Biddinger, who leads the Massachusetts vaccine advisory board, says a big challenge is finding health care workers to administer doses when they’re already busy with COVID-19 patients.

“That puts a real strain on our staff, already strained with staff in the first place,” Biddinger said. “Mobilizing additional staff is necessary and will happen, but it’s extremely hard to do.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says in its draft plan it anticipates prioritizing the following populations:

• Healthcare personnel likely to be exposed to or treat people, with COVID-19

• People at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including those with underlying medical conditions and people 65 years of age and older

Other essential workers

The plan is to stagger doses in case side effects sideline providers.

“Side effects are a good thing,” Biddinger said. “It means the immune system is reacting. Nonetheless, we don’t want all the nurses on same unit to be out the same day.”

Another challenge is tracking. The vaccine will require two doses in order to be effective, spaced out several weeks apart.

“It’s extremely important that people get the same dose they get for the first,” Biddinger said.

Hospitals and the state are putting electronic systems in place to track what dose patients receive.

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