Registrations are growing for free book-gifting program

State Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, a literacy advocate who spearheaded the effort to join Parton’s Imagination Library, said she is thrilled by the number of families who are taking part and hopes that many more children will be registered so they too can receive these gifts.

“If you can read, you can do anything,” Ferrante said. “This is an accomplishment and we are excited for the fact that local children are going to have the ability to start their own home library no matter what their income.”

Read more on the Gloucester Daily Times website→

Ferrante Appointed as Vice Chair of House Ways and Means Committee

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) announced today that House Speaker Ron Mariano has appointed her to serve as the Vice Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Ferrante will work closely with Chairman Aaron Michlewitz in crafting the $45 billion FY2022 state budget.

“I am honored to join Chairman Michlewitz as we work to navigate the uncharted waters of guiding Massachusetts through the fiscal effects of the pandemic while creating a pathway to put us back on the road to prosperity,” Ferrante said. “Representing the 5​th Essex District, and previously serving as the House Chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, gives me a unique perspective and foundation to help ensure our traditional industries, like fishing, are supported while investing in the people and the future of our Commonwealth.”

“Representative Ferrante’s background and expertise both in economic development and the needs of our working families will be a tremendous asset in crafting the House’s budget with Chairman Michlewitz,” Speaker Mariano said. “I know that she will bring the same commitment and dedication to the role of Vice Chair that she has always brought to representing the people of the 5​th ​Essex District. As we face a daunting economic recovery, Chair Ferrante’s acumen and intelligence will be crucial on House Ways & Means to shaping the future of the commonwealth.”

Prior to being appointed as Vice Chair of Ways and Means, Representative Ferrante was the House Chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, crafting last session’s $626 million economic development bill that addresses the economic impact of COVID-19, works to equitably address the housing crisis, strengthens Massachusetts competitiveness, and creates pipelines to higher paying jobs and careers for Massachusetts residents.

Ferrante has represented the 5​th ​Essex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 2009.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

This week, Massachusetts residents age 75 and older became eligible to begin receiving vaccinations for COVID-19. When the applications for appointments opened last week, many were frustrated with the process, which was compounded by the high volume of individuals looking to fill a limited number of vaccination appointments.

As state representative, I have received many comments from individuals on Cape Ann expressing that frustration. As the caretaker of my own parents, I shared in the frustration myself. Those concerns and frustrations, along with those of many of my colleagues in the Legislature, have been shared with the Baker-Polito Administration in order to communicate the need for action on this issue. 

Starting today, Massachusetts residents can dial 2-1-1 and follow prompts to reach the Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line. Individuals ages 75 and older will be able to speak to a representative live on the phone to assist them with an appointment through the state’s online system.

These representatives have the same access to appointments as those on the public website; it will not give individuals access to additional appointments. If no appointments are available, callers will have the option to be placed on a call back list for the mass vaccination sites. The caller will receive a call back when an appointment becomes available for them at a mass vaccination site, and the list will be called on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is currently only for individuals ages 75 and older who cannot use or have difficulty accessing the internet and therefore are unable to schedule an appointment through the online platforms. The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is only able to support individuals with scheduling an appointment and representatives are not able to answer general questions about COVID-19 or provide individual health care advice.

I would also encourage residents to reach out to your community’s Health Department or Council on Aging to see if there are any COVID-19 vaccination clinics scheduled or planned, particularly if you may have issues reaching a vaccination site that is not on Cape Ann. Such clinics are organized for the residents of those communities and as such do not appear on the COVID-19 vaccination map. Additionally, veterans may have access to vaccination clinics according to federal vaccination guidelines through the VA. Please reach out to your community’s Veterans Services department for details.

Gloucester

Rockport

Essex

As Massachusetts moves through the current phase of vaccine distribution towards broader public availability, it is critical that the process is as streamlined and accessible as possible. With additional funding coming from FEMA to assist Massachusetts with its vaccine rollout, I will continue to advocate with my colleagues in the Legislature and the Administration for improvements to the process.

Commonwealth Announces Expansion of Vaccination Sites, Updates to Phase Two

Today, the Commonwealth announced an expansion of COVID-19 vaccination sites in all parts of the Commonwealth, including new mass vaccination sites, pharmacy locations, and local sites. By mid-February, it is anticipated that there will be 165 vaccination sites in the Massachusetts.

The Commonwealth also announced updates to plans for Phase Two of the Commonwealth’s distribution plan. Individuals 75 years or older will now be the first priority group in Phase Two, and individuals 65 years and older have been moved into the second priority group, in addition to individuals with two comorbidities. Starting on February 1st, individuals age 75 or older can be vaccinated. Vaccination sites can be found on the Commonwealth’s map at mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap.

Vaccination Site Expansion

The COVID-19 Response Command Center has been working with health care providers, local officials, pharmacies and others to set up additional COVID-19 vaccination sites across the Commonwealth, with a focus on accessibility and geographic equity.

As of this week, Massachusetts plans to have 103 publicly available vaccination sites. Between these sites and other vaccination clinic sites (e.g. congregate care, health systems), the Commonwealth currently has the capacity to administer 242,000 doses of vaccine per week. This capacity is significantly more than the 173,175 first and second doses that the Commonwealth expects to receive from the federal government this week.

By mid-February, the Commonwealth expects there will be 165 publicly available vaccination sites. Between these sites and other vaccination clinic sites, the Commonwealth will have capacity to administer 305,000 vaccinations per week. This capacity is significantly more capacity than the 189,640 doses that the Commonwealth expects to receive from the federal government that week.

It is important to note that the state’s capacity to vaccinate is not the same as the number of shots administered. Vaccine capacity is determined by the state’s plan to establish sites, staff and logistics in place to do 305,000 doses by mid-February. The actual number of vaccinations administered to residents depends on several variables, including the availability of doses from the federal government.

The Commonwealth is planning to set up the capacity to administer more doses than we are currently receiving from the federal government. If Massachusetts continues to get the same number of doses from the federal government that the state is getting now, there could be empty seats at vaccine sites. 

The Commonwealth also announced new mass vaccinations sites in Springfield, Danvers and Boston:

  • The Springfield site at Eastfield Mall will open on January 29.
  • The Danvers site at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel will open on February 3.
  • In collaboration with the City of Boston, a site at the Reggie Lewis Center will open the first week of February.

These are in addition to sites already announced at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park. By mid-February, the Commonwealth’s mass vaccination sites will have the capacity to vaccinate 76,000 people each week. The Commonwealth expects to open at least seven mass vaccination sites as vaccine distribution continues. These mass vaccination sites have the ability to significantly and rapidly scale up operations if vaccine supply from the federal government increases.  

In addition to the mass vaccination sites, the Commonwealth is establishing public vaccination sites at a variety of different locations in every region of Massachusetts. Public vaccination sites listed on the map include places like pharmacies, community clinics, and other providers and organizations that have experience administering vaccines efficiently and safely. This week, 44 new public vaccination sites will open. These include new pharmacy and retail locations such as Big Y, Wegmans, Price Chopper, Retail Business Services at Hannaford and Stop and Shop Pharmacies, and CVS Health.

While many sites across the Commonwealth are open to all eligible individuals, some sites will be operated by local communities specifically for the residents in their community or the residents in their region. This week, 11 new restricted vaccination sites will open.

A map with all locations is available at mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap. Each location has additional details on eligible groups and signup details. The map is updated frequently as more sites come online.

Phase Two Priority Group Updates

The Commonwealth announced updates to Phase Two of the distribution plan, which will begin February 1st for the first priority group. Individuals 75 and older will now be the first priority group in Phase Two.

Consistent with CDC guidance, individuals 65 and older and individuals with 2 or more comorbidities will now be the second priority group.

Later that month, individuals age 65 or older and individuals with 2 or more comorbidities will be eligible to get the vaccine. The exact date will depend on the vaccine supply from the federal government and the uptake and demand for vaccine appointments.

Along with the addition of individuals age 65 and older into part 2 of Phase Two, the Commonwealth updated the listing to no longer specifically list public and private low income and affordable senior housing as its own category, as all individuals over the age of 65 will be eligible to receive vaccine by part 2 of Phase Two, regardless of where they live.

The order of Phase Two will now be:

  • Individuals 75+
  • Individuals 65+ or with 2+ comorbidities
  • Early education and K-12 workers, transit, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, and public health workers
  • Individuals with one comorbidity

All Phase One eligible priority groups are now eligible for vaccinations, which includes all health care workers, residents and staff of long term care facilities, and congregate care facilities, home health care workers and non-COVID-facing health care workers and first responders.

The Commonwealth will announce further updates on timing for other priority groups as more information is available on vaccine shipments from the federal government. To learn more about the eligible groups, visit mass.gov/COVIDvaccine.

How to Get a Vaccine

  • Individuals with questions about how to get a vaccine should follow these steps:
  • Visit mass.gov/COVIDvaccine to find your phase and priority group
  • If you are eligible: use mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap to find a vaccine clinic near you
  • Make an appointment online and fill out the attestation form

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Now Available on Cape Ann

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is coming to Cape Ann!

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester), Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Pathways for Children, and the First R Foundation announced today that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will be providing one engaging, high-quality book a month to children of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, and Manchester from birth to the age of five, delivered directly to their home and at no cost to families.

This program is being made available to the children of Cape Ann via a partnership between the Dollywood Foundation, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Pathways for Children, the First R Foundation, and the City of Gloucester. The partnership will provide a free book every month to children from birth until the age of five. There is no means test or other requirement in order to qualify, any child under the age of five who resides on Cape Ann is eligible to sign up. Parents may sign up their children at imaginationlibrary.com/usa/affiliate/MACAPEANN.

The Imagination Library of Cape Ann will be managed by Pathways for Children in cooperation with the First R Foundation. Funding for Cape Ann’s participation in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is made possible by state funding from the CARES Act and the FY2021 budget.

“Bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Cape Ann has been 18 months in the making. Like Dolly and the First R Foundation, I am a firm believer in the notion that if you can read, you can do anything,” said Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante. “Many may remember that my mother, Frances Ferrante, was the librarian at Fuller Elementary School. From watching her and her colleagues reading to children and hosting family reading nights, I learned the importance and enthusiasm that can be inspired in children through reading. The DPIL will provide a foundation for a region-wide platform to support children’s literacy.”

“Anyone who has ever read to a child understands how important a love of reading is for a child’s success in school and in life,” said Senator Bruce Tarr. “Literacy is fundamental to learning so the partnership between Pathways for Children, the First R Foundation, and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will create welcome opportunities for Cape Ann families with young children. This week is Dolly’s 75th birthday and this joint announcement is a fantastic way to help her celebrate.”

“My sincere appreciation to all who helped make this happen for the City of Gloucester’s youngest residents. Literacy skills and awareness are so important and beneficial to early education,” said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. “I encourage all Gloucester parents to take advantage of this amazing opportunity that will complement the incredible children and families programs currently offered at the Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library. Together, these opportunities will help build strong foundations and foster a love of learning for the next generation of Gloucester public school students.”

“Reading doesn’t start in kindergarten. Early literacy skills begin at birth—built through playing, singing, talking, sharing books, and telling stories. Pre-reading activities are critical to help children thrive in their earliest years and to set them on a path to being confident and capable learners for a lifetime,” said Eric Mitchell, President & CEO of Pathways for Children. “This partnership supports Pathways’ commitment to early literacy and, with the help of the Imagination Library, allows us to gift a carefully selected book to every child in Cape Ann from birth to 5 years old, monthly. But more importantly, we are gifting a legacy of literacy to the next generation in our community.”

“We are thrilled to continue the mission of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library by picking up and continuing to give books for the Kindergarten and First Grades!” said Patricia Earle, founder of the First R Foundation.

“I want to thank my colleague Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante for leading on this important effort to deliver books to all the children of Cape Ann,” said Representative Brad Hill (R-Ipswich). “I’m pleased to be a part of it.”

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has gifted well over 170 million free books in Australia, Canada, The Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. The Imagination Library mails more than 1.7 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring them to dream. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit imaginationlibrary.com