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First responders in Massachusetts to be vaccinated next week

FILE – This undated file photo issued by the University of Oxford, shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Britain has authorized use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to greenlight an easy-to-handle shot that its developers hope will become the “vaccine for the world.” The United Kingdom government says the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has made an emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca. (John Cairns/University of Oxford via AP, File)
FILE – This undated file photo issued by the University of Oxford, shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Britain has authorized use of a second COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to greenlight an easy-to-handle shot that its developers hope will become the “vaccine for the world.” The United Kingdom government says the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has made an emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca. (John Cairns/University of Oxford via AP, File)
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BOSTON – First responders can start receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in Massachusetts next week, officials announced Monday, another milestone in the efforts to roll out immunization to key groups covered by the first distribution phase.

Officials also announced the Baker administration will increase the priority level for residents 75 years old and older to follow federal guidelines, placing them toward the front of the line in the second vaccination phase aimed to start sometime in February.

The change will affect about 175,000 people in Massachusetts. The more than 45,000 police officers, firefighters and EMTs in Massachusetts will begin to gain access to vaccinations on Jan. 11, which Gov. Charlie Baker said will “protect them from COVID and the terrible illness that can come with it.”

Baker administration officials will make the vaccine available to first responders on three different fronts: some larger qualifying departments will be able to request vaccines to administer on-site, and individual first responders can schedule an appointment to get vaccinated at one of dozens of sites.

Over the next several weeks, the state will also set up what Baker called “mass vaccination sites” for first responders.

Details are still being finalized, but Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said she expects “to have a few sites operational as soon as possible.”

Those locations will have capacity to administer up to 2,000 vaccinations per day, Sudders said. So far, about 287,000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed to providers in Massachusetts, and about 116,000 have been administered, according to Baker.

This is a developing story.