Baker expands vaccine eligibility to all MA residents on April 19

A line made up of all ages and ethnicity fills up the doorway of the Reggie Lewis Center.

Despite a rocky rollout at the beginning of Massachusetts’ vaccine campaign, Gov. Baker announced Wednesday, March 17, that all Massachusetts residents ages 16+ will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on April 19.

Other groups are eligible to receive the vaccine before April 19. On April 5, people ages 55+ and people with one condition listed on the COVID-comorbidities list will be eligible for a vaccine appointment.

Residents ages 60+ and more essential workers became eligible on March 22. This added an additional 850,000 people to the number of those eligible to make a vaccine appointment. The list of essential workers includes grocery store employees, restaurant workers, sanitation workers, funeral directors, transit workers, and more.

The change to the timeline came after Baker received news from the federal government that vaccine-makers are expected to increase supply at the end of March and through April. 

Baker’s goal is to vaccinate roughly four million people by July 4. Out of almost 6.9 million Massachusetts residents, 5.5 million are over 18, the minimum age of participants in trials for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. 

Herd immunity is reached at 70 percent of the population, which means approximately 3.8 million residents have to be vaccinated for herd immunity. Baker is confident in the success of this goal, as Massachusetts has one of the highest percentages of people willing to be vaccinated.

More than three million doses of the vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts. 16.1 percent of the state, 1,110,629 residents at the time of writing, are fully vaccinated. Massachusetts reached the one million mark of fully-vaccinated residents on March 19.

Massachusetts also received an unexpected shipment of 8,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines during the week of March 16. The state had been told they would not receive more Johnson & Johnson vaccines until the end of March prior to receiving the 8,000 doses.

Baker recently requested for a FEMA-sponsored mass vaccination site to be launched in Massachusetts in his testimony to the Joint-Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management. 

The CDC recommends that states move in favor of mass vaccination sites in their vaccine rollouts. Baker is focusing on mass-vaccination sites as they “can reach prioritized populations with as much throughput as possible.” Massachusetts’ pre-registration vaccination system allows people to pre-register for a vaccine appointment only at one of the seven mass vaccination sites, with more locations to be added to the system in April.

A new mass vaccination site opened at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. This site will replace the mass vaccination site at Fenway Park, which will cease to offer COVID-19 vaccines after March 27. The Fenway Park site will close in preparation for the Red Sox season.

Amidst the developments in the vaccine rollout, Massachusetts moved to Phase Four, Step One of reopening on Monday, March 22. 

Large-capacity indoor and outdoor venues, specifically for sports and entertainment, are now allowed to operate at 12 percent capacity. This includes popular venues like Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, and TD Garden. Other venues, such as performance venues like concert halls and theaters, can operate at 50 percent capacity.

The number of people allowed in private gatherings has not changed. The limit remains at 25 people for outdoor gatherings and 10 people for indoor gatherings. However, the number of people allowed for event venues and public settings increased to 150 people outdoors and 100 people indoors.

Additionally, the state’s travel order was replaced with a travel advisory. Under the new travel advisory, everyone entering Massachusetts is advised but not required to quarantine for 10 days if they have been out of the state for more than 24 hours. 

Several groups are exempt from this advisory: Those who obtained a negative test result 72 hours before entering Massachusetts, those who will be in Massachusetts for less than 24 hours, workers entering the state to perform critical infrastructure functions, and those who have been fully-vaccinated for more than 14 days and present no COVID symptoms.

 

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