Reps. Campbell and Minicucci Join Call for Clarity on Vaccine Distribution to First Responders

State Reps. Christina Minicucci, left, and Linda Dean Campbell at a 2018 gathering. (Photograph courtesy of Campbell.)

Several area legislators are asking Gov. Charlie Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders to clarify when and how first responders, including fire, police and emergency personnel, are to receive one of the new COVID-19 vaccines.

State Reps. Linda Dean Campbell of Methuen and Christina A. Minicucci of North Andover joined Rep. Harold P. Naughton Jr. of Worcester and others in a letter saying there is a “need for greater clarity and transparency on how and when vaccines will be administered to other priority populations.”

“Administering the vaccine to hundreds of police and fire departments across the state may be far more complex than the current wave of vaccines being administered to hospital personnel and residents of care facilities. The disparate geographical nature of these personnel needs to be planned for,” the letter states.

The legislators called the general time line of December to February as too broad. They also particularly expressed concern about burdening local boards of health with the added

“(We) fear this could be extremely burdensome to those local boards, all of whom have already been forced to take on extraordinary responsibilities throughout the past 10 months,” the legislators wrote.

They offered such recommendations as rank each region and department, using centralized hubs for distribution such as fire districts and hazmat districts, and possibly having the 7,000 professional firefighters who are also EMTs administer the vaccine to their colleagues, including call and volunteer departments.

“It goes without saying that our men and women in uniform have been a vital part of the Commonwealth’s response to the pandemic, often at great risk and sacrifice to themselves and their families. We owe to them and the public’s safety to make sure that we are doing everything we can to make sure that our plans to administer the vaccine are transparent, efficient, and effective. Given the complexities involved, we must make every effort now to make sure that our public safety personnel on the frontlines of this pandemic are given every opportunity to access this vaccine when appropriate and are not jeopardized by inadequate planning and preparation,” the letter adds.

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