Another eligibility expansion coming next week

Coronavirus Local Impact

Social studies teacher Logan Landry looks over the shoulder of seventh grader Simone Moore as she works on a project while seated next to a cutout of Elvis Presley at the Bruce M. Whittier Middle School, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, in Poland, Maine. With instruction time reduced as much as half by the coronavirus pandemic, many of the nation’s middle school and high school teachers have given up on covering all the material normally included in their classes and instead are cutting lessons. Landry, put up cardboard cutouts to keep up social distancing, where instruction time has been cut in half by the hybrid model.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Massachusetts teachers can now circle next Thursday, March 11 on their calendars, marking the day they’ll first become eligible to schedule vaccine appointments.

The other groups designated as essential workers — including retailers, grocery store employees, transportation workers and funeral directors — will still have to wait. After President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he wanted every educator, school staffer and child care worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month, Baker moved them up, saying he wanted to avoid the confusion that could arise from different federal and state eligibilities.

The move will make about 400,000 people newly eligible, and Baker said it will “mean we’ll be back to having about a million people who are eligible to receive a vaccine” while intense demand for the vaccine continues to hover well above the state’s supply of doses from the federal government.

The state’s COVID-19 Command Center said that 12,000 new first-dose appointments at mass vaccination sites will be made available tomorrow on the state’s vaccine-booking website for currently eligible populations, a number well below the tens of thousands of appointments that opened up and were quickly filled each of the past two Thursdays as residents flooded the site. “As more individuals have received a first vaccine dose across the Commonwealth, there is a greater need to book second appointments, so the mass vaccination sites have fewer first dose appointments available on a weekly basis,” the Command Center said.

As of Wednesday, about 81 percent of the nearly 2.3 million vaccine doses Massachusetts has received had been administered, with 587,167 people now fully vaccinated and a total of 1.28 million that have received at least one dose, according to the Department of Public Health.

The DPH on Wednesday also reported 1,553 new cases of COVID-19 and 66 recent deaths in people with test-confirmed cases of the respiratory disease. There were 755 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and the state’s seven-day average positive test rate was 1.82 percent.

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