BOSTON (CBS) — More than a dozen Massachusetts lawmakers have signed a letter asking Gov. Charlie Baker to end his companion system for COVID-19 vaccinations. The 13 state representatives expressed concern about the “unintended consequences” and said the strategy “could be dangerous to our seniors.”
“The companion system as currently designed fails to address logistical, financial, and other barriers experienced by many seniors — especially seniors of color — those who are low-income, and those who are not been able to travel long distances due to illness or frailty,” said the letter.
“We encourage you to deploy strategies to equitably vaccine all seniors throughout the Commonwealth by leveraging the capacity of local housing authorities, senior centers, community centers, community hospitals, health centers, and other local organizations to provide vaccines.”
A dozen of my colleagues and I urge @MassGovernor to halt his “companion system” for vaccinations in MA. The strategy allows healthy, younger residents to get vaccinated ahead of seniors, essential workers, and others most at-risk of death/illness. #MApoli #healthcare pic.twitter.com/P40TRiQ9CJ
— Dr. Tami Gouveia (@TamiGouveiaMA) February 11, 2021
The companion system puts thousands of healthy adults ahead of those who are at the highest risk, like the elderly and healthcare workers, the representatives said.
On Thursday, Baker said the state has heard “disturbing reports” of people trying to take advantage of elderly residents after the announcement that caretakers can receive a COVID vaccine when bringing someone age 75 or older to an appointment. The new policy is aimed at making sure more seniors can receive their vaccine. Even if a caregiver is not yet eligible under the state’s vaccine guideline, they can receive a shot when accompanying a senior.
The letter asked for the program to be put on hold until teachers, essential workers, those with chronic conditions, and those over 65 are all vaccinated.
It was signed by Rep. Tami Gouveia, Rep. Mike Connolly, Rep. Carol Doherty, Rep. Michelle Dubois, Rep. Carmine Gentile, Rep. Jim Hawkins, Rep. Natalie Higgins, Rep. Joan Meschino, Rep. Christina Minicucci, Rep. Tram Nguyen, Rep. Steve Owens, Rep. Jack Lewis, and Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven.