January 29, 2021

MA Entering Phase 2 of Vaccine Rollout

Massachusetts officials this week continued to release additional details on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in advance of the start of Phase 2, beginning on February 1.  The MA Department of Public Health (DPH) developed the vaccine distribution timeline, based on findings from the Massachusetts Vaccine Advisory Group.  The timeline is rolling out in three phases:

  • Phase 1 – December 2020 - February 2021 – Populations eligible in Phase 1 include healthcare workers and first responders. 
  • Phase 2 – February - March – Populations eligible in Phase 2 include individuals age 75+, individuals age 65+, individuals with 2+ comorbidities, workers in certain sectors, including grocery, retail and restaurant, and individuals with 1 comorbid condition. 
  • Phase 3 – April (expected) – All other populations including the general public.

Grocery, restaurant and retail employees have been scheduled as eligible in Phase 2.  The state is reliant on the federal government for the vaccine supply and general CDC guidance on scheduled distribution.  However, over the past few months, RAM has strongly urged Governor Baker and his team to prioritize your employees, specifically, all consumer facing employees when identifying groups to be provided priority access to the vaccine.
The state is expected to continue further prioritizing groups within the phases as the rollout progresses, as they did in Phase 1.  For example, while retail is included in Phase 2, retail employees will not become immediately eligible on Feb. 1 with the beginning of Phase 2.  The state will continue to update the employer community and the public as a whole as the subgroups within the phases become eligible.
The state set up a website this week for appointment registrations which was immediately met with criticism from the Legislature and others in that it was too confusing for many seniors and non-English speaking residents to navigate.  Due to high demand and constrained vaccine supply, vaccination appointments are limited, with more being added as additional supply is made available from the Federal Government.  The rollout, vaccine supply and distribution, and order of priority are all subject to change and members are encouraged to check the website frequently for updates and additional notices.
The state is in the process of standing up mass vaccination sites, and is partnering with retail pharmacies to administer vaccines as well.  Individuals are being directed to www.mass.gov/CovidVaccineMap to locate pharmacies and clinics closest to them on a map, check their eligibility and schedule an appointment.  Important state guidance can also be found at:

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions



RAM Health Insurance Cooperative Webinar


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) will be hosting an informational webinar on Wednesday, February 10th at 10:00AM (EST) to discuss their partnership with Retailers Association of Massachusetts and its Health Insurance Cooperative (RAMHIC). Join us to learn how small groups (under 50 employees) can enjoy a 3% discount on BCBSMA medical insurance premiums and receive a free life insurance and a hospital indemnity plan at no additional cost, just by purchasing their plan through RAMHIC.  In addition, BCBSMA’s wellness program Healthy Actions allows employers to earn up to 7.5% premium credit and employees to earn up to $300 for participating.  To register for this event click here.

Small Business Administration PPP Webinar


RAM recently partnered with the SBA to host a webinar presentation providing an overview of the re-launch of the Paycheck Protection Program. In case you missed the event, a recording may be found here and the slide presentation here

The SBA has also released guidance and rules relative to COVID relief lending which may be found here, as well as a Lender Match tool to help you find participating lenders. Members with questions regarding PPP and other COVID relief lending options may contact the SBA district office directly at [email protected].