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Interests Compete for Limited Vaccine; Cape Officials Call for Allocation by Age


Officials on Cape Cod say the allocation of COVID-19 vaccine should be based on the Cape’s high proportion of people over 65, not the general population, but they’re not the only ones looking for more doses.

State Rep. Sarah Peake, of Provincetown, said local officials estimate that well below half of Cape Cod residents 75 and older have been vaccinated.

“We're asking for our fair share,” she said.

The complaints on Cape Cod come as other interest groups around the state advocate for their own share of the vaccine.

A coalition of 11 organizations focused on the needs of Black and Latinx residents is calling for vaccine to be distributed based on hospitalization rates, which would direct more doses to those groups.

State data show first-dose vaccination rates for Black and Latinx residents are substantially lower than those of white residents in proportion to their share of the population.

Race and ethnicity are listed as unknown for about one in five doses.

Logistical problems with vaccine distribution continue to crop up as well.

The state website for booking COVID-19 appointments crashed Thursday morning, apparently from a crush of demand as eligibility opened to people 65 and older.

Sean O’Brien, Barnstable County director of health and environment, said the crash shows how much competition there will be for the vaccine.

“There are just going to be more people trying to get that shot,” he said. “We still have quite a bit left from the 75-plus group … but there will be a lot more competition.”

The Baker administration tweeted that it was working to fix the problems with the website, and that more appointments would be released throughout the day today for some of the locations. The administration said more appointments would be released next week for Dartmouth, Danvers, Natick, and Springfield.

Problems with the 211 call center have continued, according to O’Brien. He said some people arrived at Wednesday’s public clinic in Orleans believing they had appointments, but they were not on the registration list.

“That is a frustrating situation,” he said. “We are doing our best to work with the state on getting that addressed.”

The same thing happened a week earlier at the Cape Cod Melody Tent.

O’Brien said that otherwise, the Orleans clinic went “pretty well” and vaccinated about 800 people.

A new legislative committee is scheduled to convene next Thursday to examine how the Baker administration has distributed COVID-19 vaccine.

State Sen. Julian Cyr of Truro is one of five senators named to the joint committee. He said they aim to address the many questions the public has about the rollout of the vaccine.

“First and foremost, how do we fix the current mess that we've got?,” he said. “And then, I think, as the committee's work proceeds … really looking at how we got here.”

Baker has pointed out that appointments are limited by the supply of vaccine Massachusetts is receiving.

On Tuesday, the state announced an initiative to promote the vaccine in 20 communities most disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Communities were selected using a process that took into account case rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index, and the community’s percentage of people of color.

Locally, New Bedford and Fall River are among the communities that will receive extra support to educate people about the vaccine.


Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.