BOSTON (CBS) — With thousands of appointments still available this week at mass vaccination site in Massachusetts, some are wondering if it’s time for the state to expand COVID vaccine eligibility to those 65+ and others in Phase 2. But Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday he’s not quite ready to do that.
Baker said that there are 430,000 people over the age of 75 in the Bay State, and about 200,000 have received their first dose so far.READ MORE: Nashua 'Turkey Bowl' Canceled Due To COVID Concerns
“That’s a big number but I think we’ll probably want to leave it open for a little while longer to see if some more 75-year-old folks sign up,” he said in response to a question at his news conference.
Phase 2 began on February 1, making everyone aged 75 years and older eligible for a vaccine. Next up is those 65 and older and people with two or more medical conditions, followed by teachers and other works on the frontlines.
Baker did not give any specifics as to when the state will expand eligibility.READ MORE: Ashland High School Gets State Approval To Drop Mask Mandate; No 'Immediate Change' Planned
“We’ll move when we get to the point where we think we’ve done a pretty good job with the communities that are currently eligible. And then we’ll move on,” he said.
The state’s vaccination rollout has been criticized as slow and inequitable. Baker has tried to pick up the pace with a new public service campaign, a call center and improvements to the vaccine registration website.
The governor said last week “I do not apologize” for decisions to prioritize health care workers, first responders and vulnerable populations in the vaccine rollout.
“Part of the reason these communities were early was because they’re vulnerable and at risk, and especially with some of the older folks,” Baker said. “You know, we need to give them a little room here.”MORE NEWS: Child Tax Credit: October Payments Hitting Parents' Bank Accounts
The COVID-19 Response Command Center said Monday afternoon that there are just over 7,500 available appointments at the Gillette Stadium and Springfield mass vaccination sites. Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you’re eligible and to book an appointment.