Gov. Baker receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker received his COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday.
The Republican governor got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston at about 2:30 p.m.
Baker, 64, has repeatedly said that he would not move to the head of the vaccination line, but would instead wait until he was eligible under federal guidelines.
Massachusetts on Monday opened vaccine eligibility to residents 55 and older, as well as to all adults with one of several medical conditions that puts them at greater risk from the disease.
Baker said he preregistered and was notified last week that he could receive the vaccine.
“So far I feel great,” the Republican told reporters.
“This vaccine is a critical tool to end the pandemic. It’s also a critical tool to help people feel safe and to help them protect themselves, their families, their friends, their co-workers, their neighbors,” he added.
The Hynes site opened last month to replace a mass vaccination site at Fenway Park, which closed because it was needed for the 2021 Red Sox season.
CIC Health, which is running the site, said last month that the two-shot Pfizer vaccine will be administered at the Hynes, subject to change depending on vaccine availability.
All Northeastern University students returning to campus next fall will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Boston school announced Tuesday.
The university is planning for a return to full-time, in-person learning in September with full occupancy in residence halls and dining facilities, Ken Henderson, the school’s chancellor and senior vice president for learning said in a statement.
Herd immunity is critical to reopening campus fully, the university said.
“In order to get herd immunity, we need to get a maximum number of people possible vaccinated,” Henderson said. “If all, or nearly all of our students are vaccinated, we expect that we’ll be able to achieve herd immunity.”
The school will allow for medical or religious exemptions and promised to help international students or others who cannot get vaccinated before arriving on campus in the fall to get a shot.
Northeastern will require proof of inoculation.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by about 1,500 Tuesday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 12.
The new numbers push the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 16,993 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose by more than 609,000.
The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were about 725 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 170 in intensive care units.
The average age of those hospitalized was 64. There were an estimated 34,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.
There were 9,009 probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities.
More than 4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, including nearly 2.5 million first doses and more than 1.4 million second doses.
More than 1.5 million people have been fully immunized.
VACCINE EDUCATION PUSH
Boston launched a new multilingual public awareness campaign, encouraging residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine, acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey said Tuesday.
The ads feature individuals speaking a number of languages with the aim of building trust with communities of color and other populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, Janey said.
“This campaign was created to speak to the heart of what has been missing in our lives and what can be better, if we get vaccinated,” Janey said.
The $465,000 campaign launched last week and the first phase will run through June on television, radio, paid social media, billboards, streaming services, and in print advertising.
Like the rest of the state, Boston has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
Nearly all of Massachusetts’ cases of the COVID-19 variant first identified in Brazil have been found on Cape Cod as the popular tourist region faces a rise in virus cases.
The cape accounts for nearly 90% of all P.1 variant cases in the state so far, The Cape Cod Times reports. That includes some 50 cases identified by state public health officials in recent days.
The cape has seen both its number of COVID-19 cases and its positivity rate climb, prompting local officials to warn of a possible new wave of the virus.
Massachusetts has among the highest number of cases of the P.1 variant in the country. The state’s first case of the coronavirus variant was found on the cape in mid-March.
Health officials say the virus variant spreads more easily than the original strain, but it’s not clear if it’s deadlier.