Vaccine supply reveals inconsistency

Governor announces that call center for vaccine scheduling; 12 new COVID cases Thursday.

Gov. Charlie Baker is once again easing restrictions in light of improved COVID numbers and has lifted travel restrictions, as well. -State House News Service

Updated @5 pm

While Martha’s Vineyard is trying to figure out how to meet the needs of 5,000 eligible citizens with 370 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 2,000 doses are sitting in a freezer at Northeastern University, the Boston Globe reports.

The Globe story details that confusing state guidance is leaving some facilities, like Northeastern, with a surplus of vaccines they can’t administer. After vaccinating most of its frontline and emergency workers, college officials told the state they would use the leftover vaccines to vaccinate older employees and those with medical conditions, but the state put a halt to the college’s clinic. 

“The state wanted the college to limit immunizations to people who were 75 or older, a relatively tiny group on a college campus, and wait until sometime in February before expanding vaccinations,” according to the Globe story.

As of Jan. 21, only 359,919 of 591,775 vaccine doses have been administered across Massachusetts, according to state data. The rest are at hospitals, pharmacies, and other facilities across the state.

On Wednesday, hospital officials said the low supply of vaccines was due to the way the state determines vaccine distribution.

Earlier this week, Baker said the state’s vaccine supply hinges on the federal government.

The low vaccine supply is coupled with a struggling signup process for individuals 75 and older.

In response to the complicated rollout for coronavirus vaccines for those eligible under phase two, Baker announced Thursday that new appointment slots will be available at various sites across Massachusetts.

He encouraged people to keep checking for open slots and said that a call center will be open next week to help people who have trouble booking online appointments.

Baker acknowledged the frustration many have felt about the signup process.

“It was a very frustrating day, we know that, for everybody, especially for those who were looking for an appointment and couldn’t find one,” Baker said of Wednesday, which was the first day for individuals 75 and older to schedule an appointment.

The hospital released its own sign up process Wednesday. 

Eligible individuals on the Island can sign up for a vaccine one of two ways. Hospital patients will be contacted via Patient Gateway when they become eligible for a vaccine. Patients will be able to schedule an appointment. If patients do not use Patient Gateway, they will receive a call from the hospital’s parent company, Mass General Brigham, confirming eligibility and scheduling a vaccine appointment. The Times has created FAQ in both English and Portuguese.

Non-hospital patients should monitor the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website to learn when they are eligible. Once eligible, individuals can fill out and submit a COVID-19 vaccine attestation form. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will then email eligible individuals, who should forward that confirmation by email to

12 new cases Thursday

The Island boards of health reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday — all from the hospital.

As of Thursday afternoon, the hospital has conducted 12,175 tests for COVID-19 since March. Of those, 574 have tested positive, 11,569 negative, and 32 are pending results.

There are currently two patients hospitalized with COVID-19. They are both in fair condition.

On Jan. 12, the hospital sent a patient in “serious condition” off-Island by MedFlight. There have been four total COVID-19-related transfers since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday, TestMV has conducted 31,299 tests since June. Of those, 239 have tested positive, 30,072 negative, and 988 are pending results.

One probable positive case was reclassified as a confirmed positive, for a total of 49 since March.

The town of Aquinnah has conducted 409 tests, of which one has come back positive, 405 negative and three pending results.

The Martha’s Vineyard public schools have tested 2,000 individuals. As of Jan. 25, there have been three positive cases. The public school data are updated once a week

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) reported a new case Tuesday, for a total of five positive cases of COVID-19.

Due to how tests are conducted, there can be a discrepancy between the number of positive individuals and the number of positive tests reported.

Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury are all in the “red” or highest-risk category, according to the state Department of Public Health.

According to state data, there have been 59 positive cases of COVID-19 in Edgartown in the past two weeks, and the town’s positivity rate is 8.28 percent. Oak Bluffs reported 34 cases in the past two weeks, and has a 6.69 percent positivity rate. Tisbury reported 49 cases in the past two weeks, with a 5.66 percent positivity rate.

According to Tisbury health agent and boards of health spokesperson Maura Valley, getting an immediate repeat test is not recommended, but she said it can be done at the discretion of a healthcare provider. Per Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines, if an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they should quarantine and take precautions.

Since March, there have been 810 cases of COVID-19 reported on Martha’s Vineyard. Of those, 410 are female and 400 are male, with the majority of the cases being in individuals under the age of 40. Only 33 cases have been reported in individuals over 70 years old.

The vast majority of those cases were reported in the past two months, when the Island’s first cluster of cases was linked to a wedding in October. Since then, the Island has seen 726 cases of COVID-19 — several times the 89 cases reported on the Island between when testing began in March and Oct. 25.

In addition to the wedding cluster, which reported eight cases, clusters at Cronig’s Market, with 19 cases, and a Bible study group, with 11 cases, have also been reported.

On the state level Thursday, there were 4,222 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The state’s seven-day average of percent positivity has dropped to 4.44 percent — a steep decline from 8 percent high in early January. There are an estimated 78,171 active cases statewide. There were 43 new deaths, for a total of 14,056 COVID-19 deaths since March.

Updated with Thursday’s numbers.