BOSTON (CBS) – Governor Charlie Baker says Massachusetts now ranks first in the nation in the number of first doses of COVID-19 vaccines among states that have five million residents or more. But when it comes to overall vaccinations, WBZ-TV’s I-Team found it’s surprising which parts of the country are well ahead.
In Connecticut, the old Pratt & Whitney airfield has been transformed into a fast-paced drive-through for coronavirus vaccinations.READ MORE: 'Now Is The Time To Get Us Home,' Those Who Served In Afghanistan Say It's Time To Go
“The drive-through clinic is really efficient in terms of getting people through,” said Leslie Gianelli, who’s with Community Health Center Inc., which runs the clinic. “It only takes a few minutes for the people to get the vaccination, and then just keep rolling through the runway,” she said.
The CDC ranks Connecticut highest in New England for shots per capita. By now, anyone 55 and older can sign up.
“We’re trying to get these shots into people as quickly as we can. We’re racing these variants,” said the state’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe. He said Connecticut has a zero-waste policy.
“We haven’t had any cases of doses going in the trash,” he told WBZ.
Massachusetts has lost hundreds.
Department of Public Health records obtained by the I-Team show Reliant Medical Group in Milford threw out exactly 100 doses.
A spokesperson for that clinic says the records are inaccurate.
“We have not wasted Covid-19 vaccine at Reliant Medical Group. The State report…does not align with our records,” said Linda Coccola. “We have validated this with the state, and we have been informed that the report is being updated. We take the management of the COVID-19 vaccine process and the vaccination needs of our patients very seriously. We are diligent and careful, and we have processes and protocols in place to ensure that vaccine waste does not occur.”
The same records also show the Suffolk House of Corrections tossed 100 doses. Bogwalk Urgent Care in Canton threw away 69, to name just a few at the top of the list of more than 1,200.READ MORE: NH Youth Baseball Team Forced To Cancel Trip To Cooperstown Over COVID Vaccine Requirement
That’s unimaginable over the border in Connecticut.
“You’re literally pulling someone off the street if you need to, and giving them the vaccine just to make sure we’re never putting it in the trash,” said Geballe.
Also leading the pack in vaccinations, hundreds of miles to the south, one of the poorest states in the country is winning the race to end the pandemic.
“One of my colleagues was asking me yesterday, he said, ‘you think we should move to West Virginia?’” said professor Graham Allison of the Harvard Kennedy School. “I said, ‘what?!’”
Allison said in spite of West Virginia’s well-known socio-economic pitfalls, when it comes to getting life-saving vaccine into residents, it was ranked number one in the country out of the gate.
The I-Team asked the state’s Coronavirus Czar, Dr. Clay Marsh, if he had any advice for Massachusetts.
“Create an environment where people can move quickly, where you can try things and where you can change, cause this thing can change dramatically all the time,” he said.
West Virginia’s website for appointments is run by the Massachusetts-based company Everbridge, praised for its efficiency. From day one, the West Virginia National Guard led its vaccination effort. That’s a resource Massachusetts didn’t use in that context until mid-February. Dr. Marsh says it’s been more than a so-called shot in the arm for West Virginia.
“We’ve seen a 67% reduction in mortality. We’ve seen a 69% reduction in hospitalizations,” he told WBZ.
“This is unacceptable for us,” said professor Allison. “We should be learning whatever any other state has done.”MORE NEWS: Governor Says J & J Pause Will Not Significantly Impact Massachusetts Vaccination Schedule
Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you’re eligible and to book an appointment.