Is this our best shot?


We need to stop talking about the “rollout” of vaccines for COVID-19, at least in Massachusetts. Here, it’s been more of a head-scratching, snail’s pace crawl.

How can it be that we live in a place with the best schools, universities, and healthcare — a place where scientists and medical researchers have actually worked on developing the vaccines — and yet we’re failing miserably at getting shots into the arms of our citizens?

As a state, we are lagging behind every other New England state in the number of shots administered per capita, and West Virginia — West Virginia — is doing a much better job of getting shots out to its citizens, as are North Dakota and most every other state in the country.

As of Sunday, Massachusetts had vaccinated less than 6 percent of its citizens, while West Virginia — West Virginia — is close to 11 percent of its population vaccinated.

We’ve been supportive of Gov. Charlie Baker and how he’s handled the pandemic, but he has serious questions to answer about vaccine distribution, as does the state Department of Public Health. We understand that the federal government shares the blame, but what are we doing to fix it?

On the Island, we’ve also praised the work of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, the Island boards of health, and other healthcare leaders. But when it comes to information about vaccines, they’ve all been disappointing. We know they can only move as quickly as the state in distributing the vaccine, but they could be more forthcoming with answers, both on their website and with the people who answer calls of the public.

There are lots of questions about the vaccine and availability, but few answers. When a hospital staffer suggested we consult a DPH chart describing phase two vaccine eligibility on the hospital’s site, that did nothing to answer the question everyone is asking: How and when can we expect to get vaccinated on the Island? If the hospital doesn’t yet have that information, they should tell us that, and let us know when they expect to know. As for the boards of health, the M.V. Boards of Health webpage hasn’t been updated since early on in the pandemic (if it’s not being used, say so at the top of the page), and local boards of health pages aren’t much better. On Monday, the hospital, which is the official site, finally updated its webpage with a few more important details, like the need to fill out an attestation form, which you can download from the DPH site, to determine eligibility. And on Wednesday — the day people were supposed to begin signing up — they finally started answering questions about what individuals should expect.

Sending individuals through a state website with no plan in place to get answers to the questions of people 75-plus is just a recipe for a disastrous effort that will have people chasing their tails and put us more hopelessly behind than we already are. Have we mentioned — West Virginia? We also fear that the hospital, being the only site on the Island, will become quickly overwhelmed, and it will take far too long to get our population vaccinated. Why aren’t the boards of health, who have done mass vaccination clinics for the flu, more actively involved?

The state has set up a central vaccination site at Gillette Stadium. That does little to help Islanders. The state is working with CVS, Walgreens, and some supermarkets to get vaccinations out to other areas of the state. That does nothing for Islanders. Who is working for us? Why is no one making sure that our independent pharmacies can play a role in the vaccine distribution, so the hospital as the lone site isn’t overwhelmed? And to whom can we even address these questions?

We need a leader on this and, unfortunately, this is another example of where our six separate town governments work against us.

On Nantucket, for example, Nantucket Cottage Hospital had vaccine information and a portal for their residents to sign up for shots — one hospital, one board of health — much quicker.

We need to regroup. We need to get more detailed information into the hands of Islanders. We need a detailed plan, and we need to start answering the many questions Islanders have about vaccines. We’re happy to do our part in getting the information out, but we need timely, detailed information to get that job done.


  1. good comments and reasonable suggestions about the vaccine rollout. But I wonder what the author has against West Virginia. Do I detect a little elitist bias there ?

  2. Why are you dumbfounded that West Virginia is kicking our butt on vaccinations? They are led by a conservative businessman who understands how to get things done. We have a liberal bureaucrat governor ( yes he’s a RINO) who has no clue. Baker is an utter failure and I can’t wait to see him go.

  3. Always funny how you don’t do the complete researchnor choose not to state all the story. Have you figured out why it isn’t easy to just line people up and hit them with the covid vaccine? Because there are strict rules that have to be followed. The infrastructure isn’t easy. This is not the flu vaccine. Do you really think nobody is working on this? This editorial is inflammatory and not complete. If you think this serves the greater good, you are mistaken. You do state facts but it wouldn’t be a good editorial to grab attention if you completed the research and actually reported on the challenges to delivering this vaccine. It’s a shame that people read this and believe there is the failure you misrepresent.

  4. Population
    West Virginia just under 2 million

    Mass just under 7 million

    If you remember the previous POTUS took issue with Baker and who knows what crap was mixed in that pot. We all tv witnessed January 6, 21.

    Let’s see if Baker does any better now that the “Republican” Trumpster has gone. Though I’m sure hard core Trump voters will hound our ears full of what collaboration he will or has done with the new POTUS.

  5. I hope all Island Boards of Health will unite with the hospital and quickly come up with a workable vaccination procedure for vineyard residents. Our most vulnerable population is at risk every day that this is delayed. When the vaccine is available, we should be ready to start vaccinating!!

  6. MVTimes has it right. MA is 11 percent rural and WV is 64 percent rural and WV is 6th highest poverty rate. People live in hills and valleys that are hard to get to not north and south of Mass turnpike. MA needs to do a better job.

  7. Great editorial.These questions really need to be answered. Very vague help on island. Boards of health are sending you to mass/gov site.We really need to be updated on a regular basis.Were there any qualified people being trained to help administer the vaccinations? If not why? We knew that a vaccine would be coming right? I know we had a great setup for the flu vaccine. But many already had the vaccine and the side effect issue isn’t the same as with covid. And so vaccines will be given only 3 times a week? If doses allow. It should be at a minimum 5 days a week.This is not a master plan by any means. We should be able to handle this when the doses become available. The hospital says it’s going smoothly. The first phase was easy on the island. Almost casual vaccinations. But phase 2 and 3 will be anything but that. Please get it together. Get a solid plan for administering the shots regardless of supply right now.

  8. OJ got both his vaccination and Guantanamo Bay terrorists are about to get theirs. Something wrong with this picture?

    • Andrew– something IS wrong with this picture; Your comment here reflects on the larger issue of bias and discrimination. . I assume you are referring to “OJ” Simpson.
      He was convicted in 2008 of armed robbery and kidnapping, while trying to retrieve some of his own stolen memorabilia. He served 9 years and was paroled in July of 2017.
      Do you think anyone who has been convicted of a felony while in possession of a legally owned firearm should be denied a covid vaccine, or would that prohibition only apply to certain high profile individuals? –Interesting —Is there some legal or “moral” standing for that ? He is 73 by the way, and meets all of Nevada’s eligibility standards.

      Also– for the record, the Gitmo “detainees” were scheduled to get their shots under the trump administration, but now are “paused” pending further review under the Biden Administration.
      There are 40 “detainees” at Gitmo– Of the 780 people who have been there, 2- count ’em only two have been convicted of anything–both pleaded guilty to “providing material support for terrorism”. One conviction was later vacated, Neither is currently in Gitmo.
      None of the current detainees has even been given a trial— 32 of them have been determined by U.S courts to be unlawfully held. All 40 have been there for over 10 years.
      I have noticed on this forum that you often are a champion of those you feel have been accused of something, but not convicted.. Innocent until proven guilty, is the term we use here in the United States.. Yet you refer to them as “terrorist”,providing%20material%20support%20for%20terrorism.
      Do you think any of the unconvicted “terrorist” that stormed the capitol building with the intent to murder elected officials should get their shots ?
      You are right-something is wrong.

  9. Mr Keller the article is about who gets the vaccination first not whether they should get one at all. Then you provide us with a rant about non conviction of terrorists. No I dont think habeus corpus should be given to terrorists and I have no doubt Guantanamo residents are terrorists. Very few people would say those people are innocent until proven guilty. Would you apply that nonsense to say Osama bin Laden who was shot before proven guilty?

  10. George: Not sure if my comment went through. Usually after I click “post comment” the next page will acknowledge the comment is awaiting moderation, but nothing comes up. I tried twice. Thanks.

  11. I wish everybody would just settle down and give this new administration some time to iron out the kinks. They were prevented all information during the transitional period, obstruction is what you call it, then they found NO, NADA plan for vaccinating the country and little record of where the vaccines went. Not surprising.
    This new team is on it, jeeze it’s been all of 16 days. Don’t let this be another thing to gripe about and politicize. This is a massive, unprecedented situation, be patience.
    Mask up, stay home as much as possible and all of our turns will come.

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