New England states encouraging COVID vaccination

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Shoppers wearing masks out of concern for the coronavirus wait outside a store on Boston’s fashionable Newbury Street, Sunday, May 2, 2021. In Massachusetts as of Friday, April 30, 2021, masks are only required outside in public when it’s not possible to maintain a distance of approximately 6 feet from others, or when required for other reasons, including at outdoor events. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

BOSTON (AP) — After an initial surge in vaccinations against COVID-19, the number of people receiving the shots in Massachusetts has been declining for nine days.

The Boston Globe reports the state’s day for peak inoculations came April 22, three days after all adults became eligible for the shots on April 19.

“We’re definitely seeing a decline in the past week or so,” said Dr. Alastair Bell, of Boston Medical Center, where the number of first doses at its South End hospital and five satellite sites in Boston neighborhoods dipped to about 800 a day last week from about 1,500 the previous week.

Vaccine providers say they are pivoting to a new phase where outreach will become the top priority, with more mobile sites popping up in hard-to-reach communities.

“Now it’s a ground game,” said Aaron Michelucci, senior director of pharmacy services at Baystate Health in Springfield, who oversees Holyoke and Greenfield sites. “You’ve gotten the easy people. Now you have to get after the people without technology, the people who don’t have transportation.”

More than 2.5 million Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated, including about 75% of residents over 65. But 28% of 16- and 17-year-olds have gotten at least one shot.

Gov. Charlie Baker says his goal remains on track to fully vaccinate about 4.1 million residents, more than 70% of the state’s adult population, by July 4. “We have to continue to encourage [vaccinations] through every channel that’s available to us,” he said.

Connecticut residents were breathing a sigh of relief over the weekend as some restrictions that were put in place a year ago are being eased. As of Saturday, bars that don’t serve food can open on an outdoor-only basis, and an eight-person limit per table for outdoor seating has been lifted. The limit remains in effect for indoor dining.

Face masks are still required indoors, though NBC Connecticut reports Gov. Ned Lamont is expected to announce whether that will shift to a recommendation when there’s a wider easing of restrictions later this month.

The rollback, scheduled to go into effect May 19, is contingent on low rates of infection and increasing vaccination rates.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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