Governor Charlie Baker and some of his fellow governors will meet Tuesday with President Biden to discuss the ongoing drive to vaccinate as many Americans as possible against COVID-19.
“It’s basically to talk about how to reach and deliver vaccines to either folks that are part of what we would call the hesitant community or folks who are part of communities that are just hard to reach and need more help to get vaccinated,” Baker said at a media briefing Monday at Manet Community Health Center’s Quincy vaccination site. He said he believed the virtual event would include a total of six governors.
He said topics would include the state’s partnerships with “folks like Manet” and “some of the work we’ve done with mobile outreach” and he cited some hospitals’ “really successful popup programs,” noting Boston Medical Center’s programs with churches, community health centers, senior centers, and youth centers. “I mean, there’s a lot going on in that space that I think has made it possible for a lot of people to access vaccine who wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” he said.
“Looking forward to joining @POTUS and a bipartisan group of governors tomorrow to highlight MA’s nation-leading progress in vaccinating our residents,” Baker, a Republican said earlier on Twitter about the meeting with the Democratic president. “Over 70% of adults and 60% of residents have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.”
“With all of our counties showing hesitancy rates that are well below 10 percent, people in Massachusetts are eager to get vaccinated,” Baker said at the time. “And in addition to our strong vaccine distribution infrastructure, this enthusiasm is a critical part of making Massachusetts the leading state among all big states in getting our residents vaccinated.”
Biden last week announced a goal of at least partly vaccinating 70% of adults by Independence Day, telling the nation: “This is your choice. It’s life and death.”
Baker said during the briefing Monday, which followed a tour of the Quincy vaccination site, that the inoculation effort’s going well in Massachusetts.
“Over 2.9 million people in Massachusetts are now fully vaccinated,” Baker told reporters Monday. “We will go over 3 million people in Massachusetts fully vaccinated before the end of the week. In total, over 4 million people are either fully or partially vaccinated, and we expect that we will hit 4 million people fully vaccinated by the beginning of June.”
He said elderly residents are especially well-covered.
“Almost 90 percent of our residents over the age of 75 have received at least one dose, a metric where we are far above the national average,” Baker said. “And in Massachusetts virtually everyone who gets a first dose is returning to get a second dose. That number is over 99 percent.”
State officials say that, with so many people vaccinated, the state is now moving into a new phase of the campaign, stepping up efforts to reach holdouts, rather than asking people to flock to mass vaccination sites.
Baker said at the briefing that the new model would be used if the federal government authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15 this week.
“If and when the feds make a decision on the ... 12 year old and up population, I expect that one will end up becoming a lot of walk-ins. And that will end up rolling out in a variety of ways. You’ll see a lot of popups around that. You’ll see some in schools, you’ll see some in supermarket parking lots, you’ll see them in a variety of different places. And they’re going to be based on this idea that you really want to catch people where they might be and with an opportunity to engage them and get them vaccinated,” he said.
Not long after the briefing, news broke that the US Food and Drug Administration had authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15. The Associated Press reported that shots could begin as soon as a federal vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations for using the two-dose vaccine, expected Wednesday.
When the vaccine rollout began, Baker set a goal of fully vaccinating 4.1 million Massachusetts residents out of a total population of about 6.9 million people. The thinking was that getting that many people vaccinated was a “reasonable, herd immunity-approaching strategy for the adult eligible population,” Dr. Paul Biddinger, chairman of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine advisory group, told the Globe in February.
The state reported Monday that more than 2.9 million residents were fully vaccinated, with more than 6.7 million doses administered statewide. Residents are considered fully vaccinated after getting two Pfizer of Moderna shots spaced out weeks apart, or after receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson dose.
Material from the New York Times was used in this report.