Is vaccine supply finally outpacing demand?

Remember the days of “vaccine angels” and waiting up until midnight hitting refresh on a website, seeking a vaccine appointment?

Those days appear to be over.

CBS Boston reported that at a Marlboro Hospital walk-in clinic, organizers were practically begging people to come get a dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The story said the Acushnet Fire Department posted a picture on Facebook of its empty walk-in clinic in New Bedford.

The Telegram & Gazette reported that central Massachusetts vaccine providers are similarly seeing reduced demand, and are starting to use outreach tactics to get people into their clinics. According to an employee at UMass Memorial Health, of every 100 people the organization reaches out to, maybe 20 or 30 are interested in getting the shot.

A cursory look at the @vaccinetime Twitter handle Friday morning, which aggregates available appointments, found more than 8,000 appointments being posted for the next few days at Walgreens pharmacies around the state, plus hundreds of appointments available at CVS pharmacies, schools, a library, and Walmart.

It is not surprising that demand is slowing down. According to state statistics, 3.68 million Massachusetts residents have already gotten their first (or only) dose of a COVID vaccine – or about 65 percent of the Massachusetts adult population of 5.6 million. While Massachusetts has generally low rates of vaccine hesitancy, recent polling found that around 11 percent of adult state residents plan not to get a vaccine.

Gov. Charlie Baker has said previously that Massachusetts needs to vaccinate around 4.1 million people to reach herd immunity, the rate at which the virus can no longer spread. That number, however, is speculative since public health experts cannot say with certainty exactly what percentage of the population needs to be inoculatedto reach herd immunity for COVID-19. The growth of more contagious variants may also change that calculation.

But the slowing down of enthusiasm is heightening the importance of reaching out to the remaining unvaccinated residents and making it easier for those who face logistical hurdles to get a shot.

The Boston Globe reported that primary care doctors believe they can help. The doctors say residents who may be hesitant to go to a mass vaccination site or cannot travel to one are used to going to their physicians’ offices, trust their doctors, and may be more likely to get the shot if it is offered by their doctor.

The Baker administration announced Thursday it was distributing $8.8 million in grants to increase awareness of the vaccine in 20 communities that were hard-hit by COVID, part of a $27.4 million initiative announced last month. The money will let community-based organizations and community health centers help residents schedule vaccine appointments. It will also let organizations directly administer vaccines targeted at hard-to-reach populations in places of worship, homeless encampments, substance use treatment facilities, or immigrant assistance centers.

For months, Baker has been telling residents to be patient, that at some point, vaccine supply would exceed demand. That point may now be here.

SHIRA SCHOENBERG

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

A prominent Black real estate developer is seizing on a report that Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins is the leading candidate for US attorney for Massachusetts to try to nudge City Councilor Andrea Campbell out of the Boston mayor’s race. Richard Taylor, who served as secretary of transportation under Gov. Bill Weld in the 1990s, sent an email on Wednesday  to some Campbell supporters suggesting that having her appointed to fill the DA’s post, should Rollins leave, could be a “win/win” — landing Campbell in a prominent new role while easing the path for Acting Mayor Kim Janey to win a full term in office this fall. Read more.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who fought against the release of convicted murderer Raymond Gaines, now says her office is reviewing his case after a judge ordered Gaines’s release amid new evidence that casts doubt on his conviction and on the behavior of Boston police who handled the investigation. Read more.

The Massachusetts economy roared back in the first quarter, growing at an 11.3 percent annualized pace, almost double the national rate. Read more.

Opinion:

Jessica Robertson and Dan Berwick of Borrego Solar say the state shouldn’t forget about solar and storage as it races to deal with climate change. One problem: Even at current projections, 1 percent of the state’s land will be needed for solar. Read more.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

BEACON HILL

The House and Senate disagree over the contours of a bond bill meant to finance a new Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Rockport residents, unhappy with the operation of their fire department, sue to create an independent fire district with a separate governing board. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Gloucester reaches a settlement with a health department employee who was fired after publicly accusing a Gloucester police officer of being a sex trafficker. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Park designers have finalized plans for a makeover of Boston’s Copley Square. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A Globe editorial supports the idea of mandated vaccination of certain workers, siding with Attorney General Maura Healey over Gov. Charlie Baker.. 

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Some small metro regions are trying to lure remote workers to relocate there, offering cash incentives and, in the case of one region of Arkansas, throwing in a free bicycle as well. (New York Times

ELECTIONS

Attorney General Maura Healey paid nearly $21,000 for polling out of her campaign account earlier this month, but continues to brush off talk that she’s preparing a run for governor next year. (Boston Globe

Mayoral candidates Annissa Essaibi George and Andrea Campbell criticized Acting Mayor Kim Janey’s decision to put Boston businesses on a slower reopening schedule than the rest of the state. (Boston Herald

Secretary of State Bill Galvin says he’s leaning toward running for another term next year. (Politico)

A new poll says a majority of Boston voters would favor switching the timing of municipal elections, now held in odd-numbered years, so that they occur in conjunction with state and federal elections where there is higher turnout. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Workers who were terminated from the Boston Marriott Copley Place hotel last fall amid the pandemic downturn are launching a boycott of the hotel as part of an effort to win reinstatement in their jobs. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Gov. Charlie Baker announces he is awarding $2.1 million in grants to vocational technical schools to help close the skills gap and train workers for available careers. (Salem News)

New state guidelines will require schools to screen students for dyslexia. (Eagle-Tribune)

The Northboro-Southboro Regional School District will retire its Tomahawk mascot. (Telegram & Gazette)

ARTS/CULTURE

Haverhill officials will let the controversial statue of Hannah Duston, a Colonial woman kidnapped by Native Americans, remain. But officials will remove a plaque referring to Native Americans as savages and take the hatchet out of Duston’s hand. (Eagle-Tribune)

TRANSPORTATION

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority, which waived all fares during the pandemic, is prepared to start charging again. (Telegram & Gazette)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

NOAA Fisheries recommends the city of Gloucester let a washed up minke whale carcass decompose on its own. (Gloucester Daily Times)

The state’s largest utilities are testing the use of geothermal energy for heating and cooling homes, to see if they could reduce reliance on natural gas and oil. (Eagle-Tribune)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins convenes a summit to address court convictions tainted by drug lab scandals. (WBUR)

More than 300 Boston police officers earned more than $300,000 last year. (Boston Globe)

Lombardo’s, a prominent wedding and prom venue in Randolph, is filling in as a courthouse in these days of COVID. (WBUR)