Police, firefighters and other first responders will get vaccines for COVID-19 beginning next week as the state ramps up its rollout of the new drugs.

On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said the vaccinations for first responders will begin Jan. 11, and doses will be administered at vaccination sites around the state.

Police and fire departments that are planning to vaccinate more than 200 people will be allowed to administer the drug on site, he said.

"Police officers, firefighters, EMTs and all first responders work in risky situations every day, and this vaccine will protect them from COVID and the terrible illness that can come with it," Baker told reporters at a briefing.

The state is also moving up people age 75 and older into a higher priority category of its vaccination plans, allowing them to get the drugs sooner. People in that age group will now be part of Phase 2, Group 1, of the vaccine rollout, along with those with pre-existing conditions considered at high-risk for virus complications.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said the changes affect about 170,000 seniors and were recommended by the state's advisory board.

Baker said as of Monday the state has received 287,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines and administered a first dose to more than 116,071 people.

There are about 45,000 first responders in the state, according to Baker administration officials.

Details about mass vaccination sites weren't available on Monday, but the state has already set up 60 vaccination sites for first responders.

The vaccine rollout comes amid a surge in coronavirus cases blamed on holiday revelers who ignored warnings from public health officials.

On Sunday, state reported 3,110 new COVID-19 cases and 105 additional deaths, as the number of patients hospitalized with the virus continues to rise.

For more information: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-vaccine-locations-for-first-responders

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group's newspapers and websites. Email him at cwade@cnhi.com.



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