Half of Mass. adults have received first vaccine dose
2m adults will be fully vaccinated by end of week
MASSACHUSETTS HAS BECOME the first state of its size to give a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to at least half its adult population.
According to CDC statistics, Massachusetts has given 53 percent of adults a first dose, making it the first state with over 5 million people to reach that milestone. Massachusetts continues to rank number one for number of doses administered per capita in states with populations over 5 million.
Gov. Charlie Baker touted the statistics at a press conference Monday at a vaccination site at Family Health Center in Worcester.
“We remain one of top vaccine performers in the country on every key national metric,” Baker said.
As Massachusetts continues vaccinating residents, Baker said there is evidence that the number of new cases is starting to decline over the last few days. While there was a spike in cases toward the end of March, that number has started to drop, according to state data.
Another vital metric that appears to be improving is COVID-19 deaths. For the last few days, the number of COVID deaths reported daily has been in the single digits. At the peak of the COVID-19 surge in April, there were often more than 150 deaths reported each day. At the peak of the second surge in January, deaths numbered around 80 daily.
One likely reason is that older adults are the population most likely to die of COVID-19, and Massachusetts has prioritized vaccinating the elderly. At least 84 percent of residents over 75 have received a first dose. The average age of those who died from COVID over the past two weeks is now 76, down from 86 mid-August.
“The vaccine saves lives,” Baker said. “Anybody who’s in doubt should take a look at the success vaccinating older Americans has had on older Americans’ case counts and hospitalizations. They have plunged dramatically since we began vaccinating senior citizens in the US at the end of December.”
One bump in the vaccine rollout, which Baker repeatedly referred to, is a dip in doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine coming from the federal government. After getting a one-time surge of over 100,000 doses last week, state government is expecting around 12,300 doses this week and 4,000 next week. Baker said he has not yet been told how much supply the state will get after that. Nationally, supply of the vaccine has been hampered by contamination in a Baltimore manufacturing facility that led to 15 million doses being discarded.
“Obviously you go from 100,000 doses, which created all kinds of opportunities to use that one dose in a variety of strategic ways, to 12,000 to 4,000, it makes it really hard to create a sustainable program with this,” Baker said. “What I think all of us are hoping happens with this is we can get into the same kind of rhythm on the one dose Johnson & Johnson that we’ve been in for a month now on Moderna and Pfizer.”Asked when he might consider lifting rules like the outdoor mask mandate, given the improving data, Baker would not give an exact answer, saying he wants to first focus on getting people vaccinated. “A lot of this depends on guidance from the feds, how fast we’re able to vaccinate people and how big a deal these variants are not just in Massachusetts but around the country,” he said.
Baker said among the 120,000 people who got the vaccine in Massachusetts, “overall, outside of the occasional issues you have for some people with respect how they would have responded to any vaccine, the feedback on it been very good.”