Mass. firefighters union slams state's coronavirus vaccine plans

"Massachusetts still has not provided any dates, times, or vaccination locations," the union tweeted Tuesday


Sean Philip Cotter
Boston Herald

BOSTON — The head of the statewide firefighters union said he's worried that his members will end up getting hosed over vaccinations thanks to a "lack of coordination and communication" by the state.

Richard MacKinnon Jr., president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts union, said the state is leaving the vaccinations of first responders up to the local boards of health to get jakes vaccinated — and that's ending up with varying results.

"Massachusetts still has not provided any dates, times, or vaccination locations," the union tweeted Tuesday. "Most of our members are EMT's and Paramedics, which would allow us to give the vaccines to each other." (Photo/Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts)

"It just seems like there's been a lack of plan," MacKinnon told the Herald on Tuesday. "It's just an overall lack of coordination and communication."

MacKinnon said he's not faulting the boards of health, which in smaller towns simply don't have much staff and are already overtaxed. Rather, the state should be taking the reins and setting up vaccination centers, he said — or just training up some of the jakes, many of whom already are EMTs or paramedics, and letting them do it themselves.

"Massachusetts still has not provided any dates, times, or vaccination locations," the union tweeted Tuesday. "Most of our members are EMT's and Paramedics, which would allow us to give the vaccines to each other."

The COVID-19 Response Command Center said in a statement that the state is "actively working" with local health departments, local hospitals and other medical providers to figure out the capacity to vaccinate people — and to identify sites where first responders can be vaccinated, a spokeswoman said.

"First responders are prioritized in Phase One of the state's COVID-19 Vaccine distribution plan, and based on current estimates, the state is planning to start vaccinations for police, fire and EMS in mid-January," spokeswoman Kate Reilly said. "The Command Center and the Executive Office of Public Safety look forward to this week's meeting with first responders to review the planning that is underway to stand up sites for vaccinations. More information will be made available as this process progresses."

She said the state will publish an initial list of sites by the end of the month, and more providers will be added once they identify capacity. Reilly said the state is "actively looking" for sites and identifying clinical partners to stand up mass vaccination sites, which will launch early 2021.

MacKinnon, a Whitman firefighter, said there are currently 805 of his union's more than 12,000 members who have COVID-19, plus another 650 who are quarantining. He said cases continue to be on the upswing.

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(c)2020 the Boston Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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