42,000 calls to vaccine hotline in Massachusetts

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – About 1 million more people will wake up Thursday morning newly eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and the Baker administration is beginning to put more of a focus on high-capacity mass vaccination sites and regional collaboratives as the universe of people eligible for the vaccine roughly doubles.

People 65 years old or older, the residents and staff of affordable and low-income housing for seniors, and people with two or more health conditions that put them at higher risk for hospitalization or death will be able to book vaccination appointments in Massachusetts starting at 8 a.m. Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday.

As of Thursday, about 2.1 million of the state’s roughly 6.9 million residents will be eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus that has infected more than half-a-million people here and killed more than 15,000. Baker and other officials cautioned that it could take up to a month for everyone who becomes eligible Thursday to book an appointment as demand exceeds the supply of vaccine doses from the federal government.

As the pool of people eligible for vaccination grows, the Baker administration said Wednesday that it will no longer ship first doses to municipalities holding clinics that serve only their own local residents as of March 1. Instead, the administration wants to focus on expanding capacity at mass vaccination sites and regional collaboratives.

“One thing the experience of the past three weeks has demonstrated is larger enterprises can deliver a heck of a lot more vaccines really quickly, which is really important,” the governor said Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, 893,312 people in Massachusetts had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — up by almost 31,500 from Tuesday — and 316,302 of them had received both doses and are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Department of Public Health said. Massachusetts has administered about 79.2 percent of the 1,158,050 vaccine doses that have been shipped here, DPH said.

DPH also confirmed 1,322 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and announced the recent COVID-19 deaths of 55 people. The state’s case count is now 533,024 and the death toll here is 15,623 people when counting those who died with likely, but not test-confirmed cases of the virus.

DPH said the seven-day positive test rate declined slightly to 2.20 percent as of Wednesday and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped by eight patients to 1,088 as of Tuesday. The average age of a hospitalized COVID-19 patient is now 70, down from an average age of 72 as of last Wednesday, DPH said.

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