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Regional News

Vaccination surge could cut hospitalizations by half, says Mass. Gov. Baker

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
State House News Service
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

If every unvaccinated person in Massachusetts got their COVID-19 shots, the state's COVID-19 hospitalization rate would drop by 50%, Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday.

Visiting the clinic set up at the Shaw's Center in Brockton with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan to get their COVID-19 booster shots, Baker repeated that figure multiple times as he encouraged people to get vaccinated and to obtain a booster when eligible.

"The best gift going into the holiday season that you can give yourself and your loved ones is to get the vaccine," Sullivan said. "Simple as that. It saves lives, your own lives and your loved ones' lives."

The Brockton booster clinic is one of several state-sponsored high-volume sites that together have the capacity to administer about 3,500 shots a day, Baker said. He said some additional high-volume booster locations will open later this month.

Baker and Polito said they also talked to municipal officials earlier Friday -- representatives from more than 100 communities were on the call, Baker said -- to ask for local governments' support in expanding booster opportunities.

"We encourage those communities who have not yet launched clinics to do so," Polito said. "The federal government has assured us that supply is not an issue. Boosters are available for everyone who wants one. We hope to continue to work with more cities and towns, obviously, to make more boosters available, and as we head into the winter months, getting your booster will be the most effective way to ensure maximum protection from COVID-19. This will help us keep our schools open, our economy moving and let our families enjoy the holidays together."

Adults age 18 and older can receive a booster six months after their second Pfizer or Moderna dose or two months after getting the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Boosters are free and available at more than 1,000 locations in Massachusetts, including retail pharmacies, Baker said.

The Department of Public Health reported Friday afternoon that 4,893,925 people in Massachusetts are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with either one J&J shot or two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Baker said New England is now "outperforming the rest of the country in terms of the number of folks and the percentage of the population that are fully vaccinated."

Despite the proliferation of vaccines here, COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations are elevated. On Thursday the DPH tallied 5,170 new confirmed cases and said 989 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. On Dec. 2, 2020, before the first Massachusetts residents had been vaccinated, the department reported 4,613 new cases and 1,259 COVID hospitalizations.

The state's data show that of the 989 patients hospitalized as of Thursday's report, 370 were reported to be fully vaccinated.

"If you take the COVID-vaccinated population and the COVID non-vaccinated population, in total, and you take a look at how much of that population is spending time in the hospital with COVID, each of them, if all the folks who are unvaccinated got vaccinated it would drop our hospitalization rate by 50%," Baker said. "The vaccines clearly make a difference, and we think it's really important for folks if you haven't gotten vaccinated to get vaccinated, and if you're eligible for a booster, get a booster."

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