The chart shows the number of inoculations to date through Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative nearing 20,000.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State and local officials welcomed U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to the Berkshire Community College vaccination site on Saturday for a tour of the clinic that has received many positive reviews.
"We need to get as many people vaccinated as possible, not only to prevent them from getting sick right now but also to get people immunized before the variants," Warren said. "This is the best possible use of public money, it's effective, and it's worth it."
Mayor Linda Tyer, North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard, state Sen. Adam Hinds, and state Reps. Tricia Farley Bouvier and William "Smitty" Pignatelli were in attendance.
Warren entered Paterson Field House wearing a BCC hat that was given to her when she was a keynote speaker at the college's 2015 commencement ceremony.
She said she is collaborating with the Biden administration to ensure that residents are properly supported by the federal government, with an emphasis on providing needed resources to frontline workers addressing racial disparities in COVID-19 testing and treatment.
Warren worked to include these values in the American Rescue Act of 2021 that allocated around $41 million to Berkshire County.
"When this pandemic first hit, and there were no vaccines and tests were in very short supply, the only information that was collected and reported was about the gender and the age of the person who had been tested. I started working with Congresswoman [Ayanna] Pressley [of Boston] to insist on collecting data on race and ethnicity, and ultimately got that into the COVID, relief packages, and earlier COVID relief package," She explained.
"And as the reports came through we saw the disparate treatment, which ultimately should have surprised no one. These communities of color were already underserved medically and that problem was magnified during this crisis. In this latest American Rescue package, I was able to work with colleagues, to get more funding to target underserved communities specifically and to support vaccination efforts that reach out into those communities."
Mobile vaccination clinics, increased vaccination supply, and collaboration between community-based organizations are ways that Warren believes the state could further support these communities.
Warren also spoke to the issue of vaccine ability and appointment securing, which is an issue that state residents of all ages are facing. She spoke to a couple of vaccine recipients at the clinic who all admitted to having difficulties securing an appointment on the state's registration portal.
"Vaccine rollout has been slow and very bumpy," the senator said. "It's better now, but every single person who I have spoken to here said they had trouble getting signed up, that is a serious problem. We are now months into vaccine distribution, and people are still talking about getting up at 4 in the morning, to try to get on a website where they think they might be able to sign up for a vaccine. That's unacceptable."
Warren said she was glad to hear that Berkshire County has been working with trusted organizations, particularly in the immigrant community, to assist eligible residents in acquiring vaccination appointments. The same is being done for disabled populations and seniors, and the county's 32 Councils on Aging have helped seniors to secure appointments as well.
Farley-Bouvier said the race to get an appointment is "quite the Hunger Games" in reference to the popular movie series.
"We're trying at the federal level to get money to the states to get more vaccines to the states," Warren assured the officials. "But we're relying on states to spend the money well on distribution."
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