COVID

Gov. Baker emphasizes high Mass. vaccination rate, but says the work is not done

"We continue to vaccinate a significant number of people every week, and that strategy of making vaccines available wherever and whenever it suits people has proven to be an effective strategy."

In this June 18, 2021 file photo Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker speaks during a Juneteenth commemoration in Boston's Nubian Square. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola,File)

Massachusetts has one of the best vaccination rates in the country, and the Baker administration is continuing to prioritize vaccine access, especially in advance of the school year.

On Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker emphasized Massachusetts’s high vaccination rate, and said more than 80% of adults have at least one dose. As of Aug. 11, 70% of the total population has received at least one dose, compared to 59% of the national population.

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“Our objective on vaccinations is to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated, that strategy has worked,” he said at a press conference. “We continue to vaccinate a significant number of people every week, and that strategy of making vaccines available wherever and whenever it suits people has proven to be an effective strategy.”

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As for the end game, Baker said it’s simply “more than yesterday.”

“In a perfect world, I would like to make sure everybody in Massachusetts has the opportunity to get vaccinated,” he said. “The vaccines work, I can’t emphasize this point enough.”

Baker noted that Massachusetts has the second-highest vaccination rate in the country, and rates among 12 to 19-year-olds are far ahead of the national average. The state has set up dozens of vaccine clinics with school departments and municipalities, he said, and anticipates high vaccination rates among kids grades 7 to 12 by the time school starts. Baker’s administration is recommending masks for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“Communities are doing exactly what we hoped and anticipated they would do, which is making the decision that makes the most sense for them,” Baker said. “We’ve made pooled testing available to any school district and school in Massachusetts that wants to participate. Put all those things together and we are perfectly positioned to make sure that kids and adults will be safe when they go back to school, and we fully expect everyone to be in person.”

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Baker advocated for official federal approval of the vaccines, and said it would do a lot to dissuade hesitancy.

“Vaccines have proven they work, and I really would like to see the federal government acknowledge the fact that after 400 million doses — and all of the evidence that’s out there about the efficacy of these vaccines — I’d like to see them give them a final approval,” he said.

Baker said the Provincetown cluster is an example of the vaccines working: out of more than 1,000 cases, 7 were hospitalized and 1 person died, whom Baker said had a lot of “complexities.”

“They have proved their effectiveness and we should do everything we can to encourage people to get vaccinated,” he said. “The more we get people vaccinated, the proxy of case counts relative to hospitalizations and deaths changes. If you get people vaccinated, there will be people who test positive, but they’re not going to get as sick as they would have if they weren’t vaccinated. The most important thing we need to focus on is continuing to get people vaccinated.”

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