SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Governor Charlie Baker did something Wednesday that residents across the state, including those who reach out to Western Mass News every day, have been asking for. He announced eligibility dates for everyone in the Commonwealth to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

For weeks, the governor has said that a lack of supply from the federal government has been the main hurdle in getting Massachusetts residents across the vaccination finish line. Now, he's encouraged by the most recent projections from the federal government that he can place these markers down and give everyone a date to look forward to.

While touring a large vaccine site in Brockton, the governor announced new dates for when the remaining eligibility groups can sign up for the COVID-19 shot, including:

  • March - People 60 and older plus certain essential workers
  • April 5 - People 55 and older are eligible
  • April 19 - People 16 to 54.

"The projections that the feds put out on the call yesterday were, especially with respect to Johnson & Johnson, which I’ve been talking about for a long time, we're encouraging both for the very end of March and for April," he said.

Answering a Western Mass News question, the governor said it is likely more doses will go to already established vaccine sites in the region rather than standing up new ones.

"So goal number one is probably going to be to put more doses into the operation that has already been successful," he said.

Health officials also announced new grant dollars for local communities hardest hit by the pandemic, including Holyoke and Springfield. That money will go towards staffing local vaccine efforts and increasing trust in hesitant communities across the Bay State.

Baker claims much of the hesitancy is from people who would get the shot, just not right away.

"I have seen polls where a lot of people say, 'I don’t want to go first,'" he noted.

Baker couldn’t say how long it would take people in each eligibility group to receive an appointment after preregistering. But he said looking at data from the past few months helped his administration shape the timeline.

"So part of the reason why these are two-week intervals is that seems to be about how long it takes to get to the point where you’ve got everybody anxious through the front door," he added. 

Baker was very enthusiastic about getting a larger supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is one dose and doesn't require deep-freeze storage.

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