Copy
View this email in your browser

Senator Rausch State House Briefing
Part 2, Chapter 1 (January 26, 2020)


Dear friends, 

I hope 2021 is off to a good and healthy start for you and your loved ones. I am proud and honored to continue serving as your Senator in this new term.

It’s fitting that my first newsletter to you in 2021 focuses on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Massachusetts. The good news is that we are moving into Phase Two of vaccine eligibility. Tomorrow morning, residents who are 75+ can start scheduling appointments to receive vaccinations. Please see key information in the section below.

Unfortunately, Massachusetts continues to rank near the bottom of all 50 states for vaccine administration, droves of doses remain on freezer shelves, and some doses are even ending up in the garbage because of the implementation failures to date, despite a solid plan from the Vaccine Advisory Board. The devil is always in the details, and the details have been a deadly disappointment. I share your deep frustrations about how poorly the vaccine rollout process has been so far, I continue to press the administration for improvements, and I worry that vaccination rollout and COVID management in Massachusetts may continue to be embarrassingly substandard going forward. In particular, I am concerned about access to appointment sign-ups, physical ability to get to a vaccination site, inequitable vaccination and testing site locations, insufficient collaboration with local health experts and grassroots health advocacy organizations, language barriers, inadequate communication from the Baker administration, a failure to address vaccine hesitancy, poor judgment calls resulting in changing vaccine prioritization, and public health experts continuing to be outnumbered by big business representatives on the reopening board.

Because the vaccination distribution will take several more months, it is absolutely imperative that everyone continue to take precautions to mitigate/prevent the spread of COVID19. That means masks, hand-washing, and physical distance from others. It’s hard and we’re tired. I get it. Please do not relent in your diligence. Also, try to get 20-30 minutes of physical activity daily, stay hydrated, eat well, and take time to take care of your mental health.

Questions and comments about the COVID vaccine distribution plan and implementation can be emailed directly to the Baker administration at COVID-19-Vaccine-Plan-MA@mass.gov. I welcome constituents to copy me on those emails as well.

I promise to continue advocating for personal and public health.

As always, if you or any of your loved ones in my district have fallen on hard times during this pandemic, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office via phone (617-722-1555) or email (becca.rausch@masenate.gov). We are here to help. You can also find robust resources to help you navigate through COVID-19 on my website. 

Yours in service,  


Senator Becca Rausch  

Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Some notable changes to vaccine access were announced yesterday. I’ve boiled down the details below. The good news is we’re moving to PHASE TWO accessibility beginning this Monday, February 1, with vaccination appointment sign-ups beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, January 27, at 12:01AM.

Here’s what we know so far: 

  • Everyone in PHASE 1 can get a vaccine now. This phase includes facility- and home-based health care workers, individuals working or residing at long term care and other congregate living facilities, and school nurses.

  • PHASE 2 eligibility had the most significant changes. Eligibility will be prioritized by the following groups within Phase 2: 
  • Group A: People age 75+ can sign up tomorrow, Wednesday, January 27, beginning at 12:01AM, for vaccination appointments starting on Monday, February 1.
  • Group B: People age 65+ and people with 2 or more comorbidities that increase risk for severe illness.
  • Group C: Essential and at-risk workers, including teachers, grocery store employees, food pantry employees and volunteers, and others in consumer-focused industries like food service. This is a change that effectively bumped down teachers and other essential workers in prioritization, but is consistent with recent CDC guidelines.
  • Group D: People with one comorbidity. The CDC maintains the list of comorbidities, which includes cancer, COPD, heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, obesity, smoking, and pregnancy.
  • We have no idea when individuals in Groups B, C, and D will be able to sign up for vaccine appointments. The hope is to complete Phase 2 by the end of March or early April. The timeline depends in notable part on vaccine supply from the federal government, but of course it also depends on the administration’s implementation of the vaccine distribution plan.

  • PHASE 3 will open vaccination to the general public. Basically, if you’re not in Phase 1 or 2, you’re in Phase 3. Again, the timeline is unclear and depends in part on supply, and in part on implementation of the vaccine distribution plan. The current hope is for Phase 3 to begin in April, but I will not be surprised if we don’t get to this phase until May or perhaps even early June.


You must sign up for an appointment to get a vaccine. Presently that means you need to be able to navigate multiple different websites, and to the best of my knowledge all of the websites are English-only. There is no single website where you can plug in your residential address and search for available vaccination appointments at all of the nearby sites. The media pressed Governor Baker on this yesterday and he flatly refused to create a single-stream site.

You can get to the different websites for scheduling a vaccine appointment via mass.gov/CovidVaccineMap — you’ll need to click on the various different vaccination sites near you to navigate through to the site sign-up webpages. A quick survey of the vaccination sites in and near our Senate districts yields SEVEN (yes 7) different sign-up webpages, depending on which vaccination site you choose.

You will be required to present proof of eligibility to receive the vaccine based on the Phases and Groups described above, which may be as simple as completing a self-attestation form. Sometimes that evidence is required when you sign up online. Sometimes you present evidence in person. This also seems to vary by vaccination site. Additional information about proof of eligibility here.

Everyone can get a COVID19 vaccine regardless of citizenship or ability to pay. The vaccine itself is provided fully free of charge. While certain administrative fees might attach, health insurers have been asked to not charge any copays or other out-of-pocket costs to patients. No one can be denied access to a vaccine because of an inability to pay.

Please consult the administration’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program page for more information. Unfortunately, the site can be confusing and difficult to navigate.

Have questions about why you should get the vaccine when you become eligible? Please visit the CDC's website for more information. I advocated for and the Legislature allocated $1,000,000 to the Baker administration for vaccine rollout, including a robust vaccine education and outreach program. I continue to wait to see those outreach efforts, which are essential to successfully protecting the population against COVID19, getting families back together, getting kids back in schools, and getting our small businesses back on solid ground.

Earlier this month, I filed An Act Modernizing Access and Improving Laws in Voting, the MAIL-in Voting Act (SD 39). With over 40 percent of eligible voters casting mail-in ballots in the 2020 general election, Bay Staters sent a resounding message that they want comprehensive election reform. My MAIL-in Voting Act gives Massachusetts voters what they so clearly want and deserve – expanded and enhanced access to mail voting to promote full participation in the democratic process.

At the onset of COVID-19, I led the charge to give Massachusetts voters the most comprehensive vote-by-mail system possible by crafting, filing, and successfully advocating for my 2020 Vote by Mail Act. Now, especially after the insurrection to subvert our democracy's central pillar of free and fair elections, I am more committed than ever to advancing just and equitable access to the ballot box.

Read more about the MAIL-in Voting Act in The Boston Globe.

Senior Coffees

Sign up for the February 9th Senior Coffee here.

I know this pandemic has been tough on our Commonwealth's older residents, which is why I am hosting monthly virtual coffee hours on Zoom reserved exclusively for seniors of the Bristol, Norfolk, and Middlesex District. During this time, constituents are welcome to share their experiences during the pandemic, ask questions about my work on Beacon Hill, and share their opinions on state issues with me and my team. Bring your own mug! 

(Troubles with zoom? No problem! Folks can also call into senior coffee hours.) 

 Office Hours 

 

Sign up for a 15-minute appointment here.    

Residents from any part of the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District are welcome to share their questions and opinions on state issues with me and my team via video chat or phone call. Office hours are available to discuss any matter. 
  
Additional office hours will be held on the following dates: 

Friday, February 26, 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Our mailing address is:
The Office of Senator Becca Rausch
Massachusetts State House, Room 218
24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02133

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

 






This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Senator Rausch · State House, Room 218 · 24 Beacon Street · Boston, MA 02133-1099 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp