By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts is expanding its coronavirus vaccination program next week. Starting Monday, residents and staff at 3,500 congregate care sites in the state including prisons, group homes and shelters will begin to get the vaccines.

“We’ve made enough progress with our frontline health care workers and long term care residents that we’re ready to start inoculating the next group of residents,” Gov. Charlie Baker said at a news conference Wednesday. “These facilities are prioritized because they serve vulnerable populations in densely populated settings.”

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There are about 6,500 inmates and 4,500 staff at Department of Corrections facilities, Baker said, and it’ll take about three weeks to administer the Moderna vaccines there on a voluntary basis.

“Staff are also high risk for exposure at these facilities, and many of them do amazing work, and it’s important that they’re vaccinated to protect themselves and their families,” he said.

“I think it’s critical for anybody, any group of people that can’t social distance should get the vaccine,” defense attorney Mark Bluver told WBZ-TV. He has several clients in correctional facilities around the state.

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“I’m very concerned about all the clients that I represent who are incarcerated they’ve all expressed tremendous fear about contracting Covid.”

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Other congregate settings slated for vaccinations next week include residential care and treatment programs, community based acute residential treatment programs, clinical stabilization programs, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, veteran shelters and approved private special education schools.

So far, more than 239,000 vaccinations have been administered in Massachusetts to health care care workers, those at long-term care facilities and first responders.

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“Our administration is working around the clock to ramp up this distribution process, and to make sure we have the infrastructure in place to administer these vaccines as they come to us,” Baker said.

CBSBoston.com Staff