The following is a press release submitted to SOURCE media
BOSTON – Today, February 17, the Massachusetts Legislature announced it will hold the first in a series of oversight hearings on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan on February 25.
The House and Senate hearings will be held by the newly-created Joint Committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management and will seek testimony from the Baker Administration on the state’s COVID vaccine distribution operation and plans moving forward.
“We have heard the frustration and anger of people across Massachusetts about the constantly changing and confusing vaccination roll out plan, and we are using the tools at our disposal to help people get answers, especially about what we can expect moving forward,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. “It is essential that we get a greater understanding of the Baker Administration’s plans to improve our vaccination rates, especially for those communities and populations hardest hit, including persons who are medically fragile or with disabilities, teachers, and communities of color.”
“The state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan was developed by experts and guided by science, but the rollout has been marked by both logistical and communications shortcomings,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano. “It is our hope that through these hearings, we will ascertain valuable information about the failures of the rollout and help contribute to solutions for the people of the Commonwealth. We are specifically focused on delivering equitable access to vaccines and increasing supports for our most vulnerable residents. While flexibility is important, it must be matched with sound operational decisions, as well as clear and consistent communications with the Legislature and the general public.”
In addition to the administration, the committee will be inviting the chairs of the Joint Committees on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion and Healthcare Financing and Public Health to testify.
“We can’t get to work fast enough. I’m pleased to be working with Chair Bill Driscoll and fellow committee members in this oversight capacity so that we can dig in together on wide-spread concerns around the vaccine roll out, the COVID-19 response thus far, and our Commonwealth’s emergency preparedness status going forward. COVID-19 hit our Commonwealth, its residents, our businesses, and families like a wrecking ball and the Committee will spare no effort to deliver on its charge of oversight and preparedness,” noted Senator Jo Comerford, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management (D-Northampton).
“The Commonwealth seems to have been underprepared for the complexities in Phase One of the vaccine roll out,” said Representative Bill Driscoll Jr., House Chair of the Joint Committee on Covid-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management (D-Milton). “We all understand that patience is paramount in our current pandemic circumstances, but patience and public trust wear thin when there are constant pivots in the plan. It is important for us to get a deeper understanding of what the Administration’s planning and operational outlook is for the next phases of the rollout and how they intend to improve delivery now and on a going forward basis.”
The joint oversight hearing will be held remotely on Thursday, February 25.
Further details will follow.
Testimony will be by invitation only, but the hearing will be viewable by the public.
A series of similar hearings, including one that will be open to public testimony, will be scheduled in the coming weeks.