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When Will Massachusetts Restaurant Workers Be Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Some time between February and April, according to a representative with Gov. Charlie Baker’s office

AltaMed Health Services gives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare staff Photo by Mark Rightmire/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Restaurant workers in Massachusetts are among those who will be prioritized in Phase 2 of the state’s vaccination plan, though no firm date regarding eligibility has been set. Phase 2 of Massachusetts’s COVID-19 vaccination plan officially began on Monday, February 1, meaning that anyone 75 and older living in the Commonwealth is now eligible for the vaccine. Phase 2 will take a tiered approach to vaccination, and includes four priority groups.

Individuals who are 65 and older, and those who have multiple comorbidities that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, will become eligible for vaccination in the second part of Phase 2. Restaurant workers are among the cohort of “other workers” who will become eligible in the third part of Phase 2, however it’s unclear at the moment when that will be.

A representative with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s office told Eater via email that “we’ve said that Phase 2 will run from February - April, [and] we’ll provide more updates as they become available.” As it stands, restaurant workers don’t have a firm date regarding vaccination eligibility, though they should be eligible sometime in the next two to three months.

As it became clear in March 2020 that COVID-19 was spreading through Massachusetts, Baker announced that the state would shut down its restaurants for on-site dining for at least three weeks. Three weeks turned into three months. That interlude aside, restaurants in Massachusetts have been open in one capacity or another for the bulk of the pandemic, which means that many restaurant workers have been putting their health at risk for the bulk of the pandemic, too.

The light at the end of the vaccine tunnel is close for restaurant workers, but a firm date would be reassuring, especially given the rocky rollout of the state’s vaccination plan. According to Bloomberg’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker, Massachusetts has only administered about 55 percent of its available vaccine doses, and it currently lags behind every state in New England and New York in terms of vaccine doses administered per capita. Indeed, the Baker administration has come under fire for its vaccine rollout to this point.

The state’s website states that:

Additions and further clarification of the list of specific occupations and groups is paused at this time. The COVID-19 Command Center will resume listing specific groups: 1) after we have launched eligibility for individuals 65+ and individuals with 2+ certain medical conditions and 2) once additional supply of vaccine from the federal government has been significantly increased. At that point, we will resume the review of specific groups.

Keep an eye on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination page for more information about the rollout and eligibility, and find information on vaccination locations here.

All Massachusetts Restaurants and Bars Will Shut Down for Three Weeks, Except for Takeout and Delivery [EBOS]
Massachusetts Restaurants Can Officially Reopen for Outdoor Dining on Monday, June 8 [EBOS]
Bloomberg COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker [B]
Massachusetts Lagging Behind Most Other States in COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout [BG]
Mass. Should Be Nailing The Vaccine Rollout. Why Are Most States Ahead Of Us? [WBUR]

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