PEABODY, MA — U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton is urging veterans to consider bypassing the state coronavirus vaccination rollout and enroll in the Veterans Affairs health care system in hopes of getting the vaccine as soon as possible.
Moulton said veterans, especially those 75 years old and older, who are not already in the VA system should consider enrolling since the federal VA is immunizing veterans separately from the state schedule.
Gov. Charlie Baker said on Monday that starting Feb. 1 all residents age 75 or over will be eligible for the vaccine, with those age 65 and older eligible later in phase 2 based on the availability of the vaccine doses.
“We can only move as fast as the federal government ships vaccines to the Commonwealth,” Baker said at a news conference.
Baker said the state will soon have the capacity to administer 242,000 vaccines per week, and 305,000 by mid-February. But he does not expect to get that many doses from the federal government in the coming weeks.
Moulton charged on Tuesday that the state is holding back too many doses and more could be done to get what is manufactured out to residents more quickly.
“The coronavirus vaccine is the most precious commodity on the planet, but it is useless unless it is in people’s arms,” Moulton said in a statement. “Too many doses in our state are sitting in freezers.
“We’ve got to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible. Let’s get creative: medical vans with the vaccine should be available in underserved communities 24/7; veterans should enroll with the VA; and primary care providers should receive doses for patients who qualify.”
Veterans Affairs Bedford health care services can be found here.
Baker announced several mass vaccination sites — including Fenway Park and the Double Tree Hotel in Danvers — will come online in early February and that he was hopeful that supply will catch up to demand sooner rather than later.
Moulton told WBZ-AM last week: “Clearly it’s not going fast enough. We have to work with the Baker administration to make sure it improves, it gets better and that we vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible.”
The VA hospital in Bedford was one of the first places in the country to receive the vaccine in December with Moulton’s office saying the VA Bedford Health Care System has given out more than 4,600 vaccinations to veterans and employees through a clinic that runs 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Jamaica Plain VA was the site of wasted doses last week, however, when an alarm failed to go out when a freezer was unplugged and 1,900 Moderna vaccines spoiled.
Moulton’s office called the incident “inexcusable” but said he was encouraged with the prompt disclosure of the issue and assurances that the spoiled doses will not significantly interrupt the pace of the VA’s vaccine distribution.
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(Scott Souza is a Patch field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at [email protected] Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)
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This article originally appeared on the Peabody Patch