County’s legislative delegation continues to press state on vaccine allotment

  • Mass DPH

Staff Writer
Published: 4/2/2021 5:04:03 PM

NORTHAMPTON — State legislators from western Massachusetts continue to ask the state for more vaccine supply for Hampshire County.

“We respectfully request that you prioritize the Hampshire County Regional Collaborative for increased doses to ensure that vaccination is equitably accessible and available to residents of the county,” a dozen legislators with constituents in Hampshire County wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. The county’s regional vaccination collaborative has locations in Northampton and Amherst.

Compared to other counties in the state, Hampshire County has gotten the least amount of vaccine per capita shipped to its providers, according to state data.

The legislators asked for more vaccine be given to the regional vaccination sites “and an explanation for why Hampshire County continues to receive some of the lowest vaccine allotments.”

Counting vaccine doses as a percentage of the county’s population, Hampshire County has received 36%, while Franklin County has received 47%, and Hampden and Berkshire counties have received 62%. The lowest other county in the state is Bristol at 39%, while the highest is Suffolk County at 112%. Despite the lower vaccine supply, 32% of residents in Hampshire County received at least one dose of COVID-19, which is a few percentage points higher than Worcester and Hampden counties, and only slightly lower than in Franklin and Berkshire counties, according to DPH data. 

Still, legislators expressed concern and noted that in several weeks, all populations are eligible to get vaccinated.

“I am concerned that the preferential allocation of vaccine to mass vaccination sites shortchanges a county like ours — and others — that don’t have these sites and undermines our resident’s ability to get vaccinated,” Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, said in a statement.

For the last week in March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates community transmission as high in all counties across the state.

Cases of COVID-19 have increased in Hampshire County over the last two weeks compared to the previous two week period, according a Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts analysis of the Department of Public Health’s weekly report released on Thursday. The county’s average daily case rate per 100,000 people over the last two weeks is 18.7, while it was 17.2 in the previous two week period, according to the analysis.

Cases in Granby are on the rise. There were 34 cases reported over the last two weeks and it is in the state’s highest risk category for COVID-19, according to the most recent DPH report. Cases also rose in South Hadley, Southampton, Easthampton and Belchertown in the past two weeks compared to the previous two weeks. Other areas, like Northampton, saw a decrease in cases. A full breakdown of COVID-19 case numbers and incidence rates can be found in the state’s report on the DPH website.

Compared to other states, Massachusetts has some of the highest number of variant cases detected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 712 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant detected, 58 cases of the P.1 variant and 12 cases of the B.1.351 variant as of Thursday. Those virus mutations seem to be more easily spread, according to the CDC. Since January 2020, 1.2% of Massachusetts cases have been sequenced, a process that can detect a variant, according to the CDC.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.


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