Vaccine, Massachusetts, Charlie Baker Is Gov. Baker’s ‘Younger Companion’ Vaccination Idea The Right Call?

He stopped by in danvers yesterday, where a line stretched around the block. When word got out that the site had extra doses, people need to manage their dosing and manage their their vaccine, and we expect all the sites to do that. Going forward. It’S important for people to understand that if you don’t have an appointment, if you don’t have a scheduled appointment, there won’t be a vaccine for you now, while the governor may want that to be the case. Reports indicated several people got their shots yesterday, without an appointment or being eligible under current state guidelines and that’s, certainly not the only place. That’S happened. Baker also touched on a change he announced yesterday, allowing a person who accompanies someone aged 75 or older to one of the mass vaccine sites, meaning mass, not massachusetts, to make an appointment for themselves too. A move that’s already had some unintended consequences as state representative, steve owens, tweeted, totally normal for your state’s vaccination plan to create a market on craigslist for people willing to pay to drive seniors to their appointments, prompting this warning from baker, if you’re, 75 years or older And you need assistance going through the vaccination process. You should only reach out to somebody that you know or trust to bring you as your companion, but baker is getting some credit for progress on reducing racial disparities. After initial criticism, in a january 26 letter to the governor congresswoman, ayanna presley told us on boston public radio yesterday that she’s been encouraged by the governor’s commitment to work with community health, centers and trusted leaders to reach the state’s hardest hit communities.

But she noted there’s still more work to be done, someone who was an as an asthma, sufferer myself. I was very disappointed to learn that asthma was left off the list of eligible medical conditions for the copen vaccine in the states phase. Two rollout, you know, that’s really devastating for black and brown communities in massachusetts, including in my district, who have disproportionately higher rates of asthma. Now on the vaccine. Rollout overall massachusetts just got an f from a professor at harvard for it’s, quote stumbling effort to get shots in arms for failing to prevent deaths, putting massachusetts behind almost every other state nationally. The vaccine situation is looking a little bit brighter. One in ten americans have now gotten at least one dose and today biden’s top medical advisor. Dr anthony fauci, said he thinks the process will speed up dramatically in the coming months by the time we get to april. That will be what i would call for. You know for better wording open season, namely virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated. But my favorite piece of news today we won’t be subjected to any more pandemic garbage from robert f kennedy jr on instagram. He was banned from the platform. Yesterday by its parent company facebook for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines i’m joined by dr cassandra, pierre she’s, an acting hospital epidemiologist infectious disease, physician at boston, medical center and assistant professor of medicine, at bu, school of medicine and barry bloom.

Former dean of faculty now, professor of immunology and infectious disease at harvard’s chan, school of public health doctors. Thank you so much both of you for joining me. I appreciate it dr pierre. If i can start with you, one positive update i failed to mention is though deaths remain obviously far too high. The overall virus numbers here and across the nation are improving. I just don’t understand why it surely isn’t the vaccines there haven’t been enough doses administered. Yet why are the numbers getting better yeah you’re right? We don’t have enough vaccination in our community yet to achieve any sort of herd, immunity or reduction in infections. I think one uh, maybe optimistic overly optimistic uh analysis of this might be that, as we have gone into a new administration, there are new rules, there is a national mass mandate um and we presume that these are being enforced more consistently. The expectation at least has been made known more explicitly. People are hopefully following these recommendations, um, but i also think there’s a bit of a darker meeting that there is. There are less indoor gatherings, we have less holidays, less things to look forward to and so less opportunities to, mix households and potentially transmit virus more efficiently. Dr bloomberg buy that analysis yeah. I would also throw in that the increased contact between thanksgiving christmas and new year’s has done its damage and uh we’re coming back to a normal state um. But i agree with dr pierre people are more conscious of uh the need for masks, and i think the data are that more people are wearing yeah about time.

You know i should have mentioned earlier. You’Re involved in the governor’s vaccine, roll out task force uh. Dr bloom, the governor, has admitted that the rollout’s been bumpy even though i’m sure he’d challenge that uh grade from your colleagues at uh harvard uh, but there were more bumps yesterday with this i know well intended, but let’s call it scam susceptible thing about the person Who accompanies someone 75 years or older? Obviously we want to get as many older people vaccinated as fast as possible. Was the governor right here. Was this the right way to do it, dr bloom? So the question is um to go back to first principles. The people most at risk of dying from this disease are people over 70 and over 65. 75 is a group that is the highest risk for death, so anything that one can do reasonably to reach and get to these people, many of whom are not able to Get around on their own, it is at least a constructive idea. The downside is, your commentators have indicated if it is not a family member and it’s a uber driver um excuse the uh equity arrangements and fairness arrangements, so younger people are getting vaccines simply because they drive an uber. I don’t expect much of that, but it’s possible, and it would be unfortunate. You should look at my neighborhood message board mid cambridge and you might uh feel differently. There were a lot of quote volunteers this morning, dr pierre did baker get it right on that.

Obviously the goal is uh is admirable. Is the vehicle so to speak, to get it there the right one? Well, i have to agree with dr bloom that if this is rolled out correctly i.e if there are sufficient doses of vaccines to account for the additional individuals who will be showing up uh, whether caregivers or not, um, uh or opportunists um, then we have actually accelerated Vaccine rollout, um and targeted those who are most susceptible to the severe forms of covet and also potentially um made a victory for um for racial and health equity, because the individuals who are going to need most assistance to get into these vaccine sites might be individuals. In low income communities in black and brown communities who otherwise would lack transportation, and so even if the individuals who are showing up with them are not necessarily their primary caregivers, that is one way to incentivize people to show up. That being said, if we do additional doses for those that those doses have not been factored in and it delays roll out of the subsequent high risk groups, then this will happen in the step. Well, i happen to be in that next group, in the spirit of full disclosure, 65 and people with two comorbidities. The governor was asked about that yesterday, because obviously, every dose that goes to that person who gets the 75 year old to the vaccination site, arguably means one fewer dose for that person than the next group here’s.

What the governor had to say. I think if you look at the data being over the age of 75 being over the age of 85, those communities are far more likely to lose their life and get hospitalized as a result of covid and it’s, not like five percent or 10 it’s like multiples. We want to make sure before we go to a next category, that we’ve gotten everybody we can possibly get. Who falls into that classification? I want to approach another bumpy issue from the last couple days with you. If i can one of the issues i i mentioned at the top of the show, the chaos in danvers were people there, hoping there was an extra dose. The governor was asked repeatedly about these extra doses. Today, let me start with you, dr bloom. Every time he was asked the question he said you got to make an appointment, you got to make an appointment, but the questioners, the reporters were basically saying there are going to be extra doses, though, and one question that i thought made total sense, which he said He blew away was how about a call list so that if there are extra doses, there’s a call list for people which is orderly to say if you’re available come on down? Why is that not the same approach to the extra dose issue? Yeah, the complexity that i truly don’t understand is why um in the beginning, you had to call places that had vaccines.

It would seem that the most sensible thing would be to have a state registry people make appointments, they’re assigned to the places nearest where they live, and there should be a 30 minute list. At the end of the day, we have 25 vaccines left over. We have a list of people who can use them in 30 minutes, and that would be the fairest way to do it. That was not the way it’s been rolled out. Well. Staying with you for a second you’re on this uh covet roll up vaccine task force. West virginia one of the poorest states in the country has exactly that kind of centralized pre registration system indiana, i think either arizona or new mexico. Why don’t? We have one um, i i’m. Only on a committee that gives advice. I don’t run things. You know dr pierre, if i may, let me move to another issue. I mentioned that a congresswoman presley was with us on the radio yesterday, i was glad to hear that she felt that she was finding a receptive audience in the governor on some of the issues, particularly around community health centers, but but i think we focus my opinion Is not a professional, we focus almost exclusively on communities of color on the issue of vaccine hesitancy and not nearly enough on the issue of vaccine access, we all read the story about the reggie lewis center in roxbury on day, one where the vast majority of people Who had appointments were middle class and upper middle class? Whites, not people from the community, and if the issue is not just vaccine hesitancy but vaccine access, what do we do about it? Well, i think that there are a number of things that we can do.

Um one is, i think, clearly, a better marketing plan for these vaccines in communities of color um. I think that there also needs to be. You know, disseminated vaccine sites. I think the regular center is a great location. I think we need to do ongoing education. Um black professionals, like myself, are going into communities to talk about the trust gap and why we believe in these vaccines. But i actually think that the larger issue is not cannot be remedied immediately by a few black doctors and public health officials and pharmacists going out to the community a longer and larger issue with trust and the health care system needs to reconcile one of the ways They can do that is by showing it prioritizes the needs of black community black and brown community by potentially pairing things that the community desires. Things like uh unemployment assistance sign up for rolls to food pantry, locating others like a one, stop kind of thing, that’s, an excellent idea. You know barry bloom. I want to change gears with you stat, which is the wonderful uh, boston, globe, health and medicine technology. Uh. A piece yesterday had a story uh the title, which was the calm, meaning numbers declining, as i said at the top before the storm, and the storm was the variance coming. So we have andrew cuomo in new york state saying: we’re allow stadiums to go to 10 percent capacity. We have charlie baker, saying businesses that are allowed to be open can go from 25 to 40 percent.

At the same time, we read reports that joe biden and his administration are thinking of shutting down domestic travel, at least between certain states like florida and california, because of the variance on the horizon, aren’t they working across purposes. I mean isn’t that a problem of course that’s a problem but it’s a problem between maximizing uh circulation of the current virus and minimizing the chances for expansion of variants that do much better than the current ones that transmitting versus keeping the economic fabric of society going Jobs, open uh restaurants, open that uh. We can make um new vaccines for the fall for the new variants we can’t reach. My point is, if i may interrupt my point: is joe biden’s talking about shutting down at the same time that baker and cuomo are talking about opening up doesn’t that send a a confusing message to real people. No, i didn’t hear that, but i heard is the pressure to put um a requirement, possibly for vaccination, for long distance, airplane travel and a requirement for masks rather than stopping ball transport. Well, i hope you’re right and, i hope, i’m wrong. I just have a minute left, starting with you, dr pierre, a little nostradamus time. Give me a sense of what you see over the next let’s say two months on the vaccine and virus front quickly. If you can sure well, my name is cassandra. Well, i think that you know what we will see is there will be a prolific proliferation, hopefully of new vaccines that are available to us, and we’ll have to figure out how to deploy these in an equitable fashion.

I think that we will ramp up the vaccine distribution, no doubt about it, but we will still be in um, not a great position when it comes to the and the most at risk for our population, and we need to do a lot more to get that Ready agreed, barry bloom, you get the last 30.. I think we have to figure. I agree with everything dr pierre said. What we have to do is be creative at getting vaccines to the people instead of the focus on getting the people to stadiums and places for vaccines, and this means really utilizing the very strong community, centers and organizations that we really haven’t tapped into at the highest Level and i’m optimistic that they could do a terrific job and engender the trust that dr pierre feels is so important cassandra pierre. I thank you very much for being here. Barry bloom. I not only thank you. I read today you’re from philadelphia like i am, and you have no accent so i want to congratulate you on that good to see you both. Thank you very much for your time.

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