Lindsay Sabadosa, (D), is the Massachusetts State Representative from Northampton. Sabadosa joins Connecting Point’s Ray Hershel to share how the COVID-19 vaccination rollout is going in the 1st Hampshire District, the district she represents in Boston.
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Ray Hershel, Connecting Point: Wanted to get your impressions on how the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is going, not only across Massachusetts, but in your particular district, of course the Hampshire district.
What are you hearing from constituents about the rollout?
Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, (D – Northampton): Well, it has been a very difficult few days. We saw the opening of phase two announced, and there has been a mad rush for people over the age of 75 to try to get appointments. What we’re finding is that there are not many appointments available, and that is because there is not the supply to back up the number of people who are seeking vaccination.
For us in the First Hampshire District, I think it’s really a story of people wanting to rely on our local public health infrastructure, our local board of health. Our local board of health right now has the capacity to inoculate up to twelve hundred people a week. And yet, they were told a few days ago they were only going to get 100 doses. So, that really means the state is not relying on those infrastructures that are there.
And while I hear people across the state complaining there’s no phone number, the website is difficult to navigate, our local boards of health have set that up. They have a website, you can call, you can make an appointment. Oftentimes they are going to call you back because there’s a lot of demand, but you get to talk to a real person to do those things.
So it’s a little frustrating that we have our local communities stepping up in such enormous ways, getting the sites, the people to administer the vaccines. They have the phone numbers, they have the websites, and the state is just not relying on them the way that they should.
So, that’s my conversation with the secretary and with the governor’s office to really say, “hey, we’re here, we’re ready to go. Just give us the vaccine so we can make sure that they get into people’s arms” and we can move through with step one of phase two and on to step two and all of the rest. But if we don’t rely on the infrastructure that’s there, we are never going to get the vaccine out in a timely manner.
Ray Hershel: You feel the First Hampshire District is getting, proportionally, a fair share of the the vaccines and the doses that are going around the state?
Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa: I think that it’s very safe to say that we are not. I don’t think that the number of doses going to our local board of health is different from other local boards of health.
But I think that overall, the state-distributed vaccine for phase one based on the number of people who were health care workers or who were living in congregate care facilities. So, those numbers were really based on the percentage of the population that was supposed to be inoculated in that phase.
Phase two is so much broader. I mean, it’s really like we’ve opened the floodgates. And so in this case, western Massachusetts represents about a tenth of the population, we should be getting a tenth of the vaccines that are out there. And that’s not happening.
But I will reassure people that there is not a legislator or a city official or a local board of health director or hospital administrator, you name it, who is not out there advocating that we get our fair share right now. We are all rowing in the same direction on this, and we are very dedicated to getting those vaccines for the people of western Massachusetts.
Ray Hershel, Connecting Point: And any quick word advice for people in your district as they try to get their vaccines?
Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa: I think the the biggest word right now is patience. I know that it is frustrating. It is very hard to navigate the online system.
We are here to help you, so please reach out. If we can help you walk through the process, we’re going to do it, but also rely on your local boards of health. They are there, they are willing to do this work. They are very good at doing this work. And again, patience.