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Cape & Islands Senators Push for Changes to Vaccine Rollout

State senators from the Cape and Islands are among Senate Democrats calling for the Baker administration to make immediate improvements to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

Sen. Julian Cyr of Truro said the vaccine rollout has been “a mess” in Massachusetts, and that the administration should have done a better job communicating the realities of the short supply.

“Frustration levels are high, and tempers are flaring,” he said. “I know that. I feel that personally.”

Phase 2 is set to start Monday, allowing any person age 75 or older to get the vaccine. But appointments are scarce.

The first clinic sponsored by Barnstable County, scheduled for Feb. 3, had just 600 appointments; they were full within an hour of being posted online.

Asked if the state should have waited until more doses were available before opening online appointments, Cyr said he agreed.

But Vaira Harik, a Barnstable County official who tracks COVID-19 data, pushed back on that idea, saying the state would be remiss not to offer what supply it has, even if the demand cannot be met.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sue Moran of Falmouth and Sen. Marc Pacheco of Taunton have co-sponsored a bill to create an online portal that would centralize the booking of vaccine appointments.

Right now, the state website shows locations that give the vaccine, but requires the public to sign up through individual providers, such as a pharmacy or public clinic.

Moran released a statement Thursday saying the bill would immediately require the state Department of Public Health to establish both online registration and a 24/7 telephone hotline to help eligible people make appointments.

She said she decided to co-sponsor the legislation after hearing complaints from seniors about the registration process.