May 11, 2021
Top COVID-19 News
Amid the pandemic, news is fast-moving – and sometimes confusing. Coverage is here to help. Our new series provides a clear, fact-based digest of the top news for health consumers.
Shot authorized for kids
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is now authorized for emergency use in anyone age 12 and up. The vaccine, which previously was authorized for anyone 16 and up, has been found safe and effective for the new age group in clinical trials. Approximately 17 million kids in the U.S. will be eligible for vaccination before the 2022-2023 school year begins.
How can you sign your kids up? The vaccines, which are given in two doses, are expected to be widely available for kids at pharmacies, primary care providers, and other locations nationwide. If you live outside Massachusetts, you can check your public health department’s website for information about how to get vaccinated. In Massachusetts, parents can start registering their eligible kids for appointments at mass vaccination sites and some local sites now.
Walk-up vaccine access
All of Massachusetts’ mass vaccination sites are now allowing walk-up vaccination, with hours posted on www.vaxfinder.mass.gov. Some pharmacies and other clinics also are offering vaccines without requiring appointments, including many supermarket, CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. As part of the state’s ongoing focus on equity and access, more doses are being provided to the 20 hardest-hit communities via vans, new clinics and pop-up sites for residents who may have language barriers, mobility challenges or trouble traveling. There is no charge for the shots and free transportation to vaccine sites is available.
Immunization up, infections down
More than half Massachusetts’ adult population has now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and nearly a million additional residents have gotten a first dose and are awaiting their second. That puts the state among the first three in the U.S. (along with Hawaii and Vermont) to have more than 70% of adult residents at least half-vaccinated.
What’s the impact? For the first time since early November, the number of active COVID-19 cases has dipped below 20,000 in Massachusetts. This week, hospitalizations dropped for the 10th straight day, and the 7-day average positivity rate fell to 1.24% — far below its winter high of 8.67% on New Year’s Day. On May 11, there were zero COVID deaths for the first time since June 2020. “I can’t stress enough that these vaccines have proven their mettle here in the Commonwealth,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “They are safe, they are effective, and they are keeping people healthy, out of the hospital, time and time again. And it shows in our data, not just here in Massachusetts but across the country and around the world.”
Bay State continues to reopen
As the state gets healthier, it continues to reopen businesses. Amusement parks, theme parks, and water parks can open at 50% capacity. Road races can resume, with staggered start times. And stadiums can go up to 25% capacity.
What’s next? On May 29, if the favorable trends continue, gathering limits will increase to 200 indoors or 250 outdoors. Up to 10 people will be able to share a table at restaurants. And beer gardens, bars and nightclubs will be able to open with some restrictions, including seated service, a 90-minute limit and no dance floors.
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