APRIL 23 -- The vaccination campaign in Massachusetts caught the attention of a top White House official on Friday, who pointed to the Bay State and a handful of others as examples of some of the highest vaccination rates in the country.
Andy Slavitt, a White House COVID-19 adviser, noted in a Friday morning tweet that Massachusetts and seven other states -- New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Mexico, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont and Hawaii -- have all administered at least one shot to 60 percent or more of their adults.
All eight, Slavitt said, "have turned the corner on the number of cases & hospitalizations." Through Friday, more than 2.23 million adults in Massachusetts have been fully vaccinated with both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson option, representing slightly more than 40 percent of the state's adult population.
Massachusetts stopped administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 13 to comply with a federally recommended pause after regulators identified six cases of rare blood clots forming among the nearly 7 million people who received the shot, but that might change following action late Friday afternoon.
A U.S. Centers for Disease Control panel voted to recommend lifting that pause with a label communicating the risk of rare clots, according to a New York Times report.
The state Department of Public Health reported 1,452 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday from 92,155 tests, slightly more cases and fewer tests than a day earlier. Officials estimate there are 30,262 active cases in Massachusetts, continuing a drop over the course of the week. - Chris Lisinski
J&J Vaccine Clears One Hurdle: U.S. Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Friday voted to recommend that the federal and state governments resume the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Last week, the federal government recommended that use of the single-shot vaccine be paused while an investigation into six reports of severe blood clots in recipients unfolded. On Friday, federal authorities said the number of clotting cases had increased to 15, out of about 8 million people who had received the J&J vaccine. The advisory committee voted to include a warning label about the rare clotting side effect on the vaccine vials, according to multiple reports. The advisory committee's recommendation does not automatically restart the use of the J&J vaccine. Other federal authorities must now decide whether to formally advise states they can lift the pause that's been in place since April 13. -- Colin A. Young 5:10 PM Fri
50K+ More Fully Vaccinated in Mass.: The number of fully vaccinated people in Massachusetts -- those who have received either both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine -- grew by 51,864 in Friday's update from the Department of Public Health, rising to 2,232,061 from the 2,180,197 reported Thursday. In all, 3,271,029 Moderna and Pfizer first doses have been administered here, plus more than 2 million second doses of those vaccines. There can be lags in when vaccination numbers are reported to the state, and the total number of Johnson & Johnson doses administered has continued to go up in DPH reports since state officials on April 13 directed providers to pause their administration of the J&J vaccine, in keeping with a federal recommendation. The number of J&J vaccines administered stood at 204,489 in Friday's report, up 346 from Thursday's. A total of 6,522,150 vaccine doses have been shipped to Massachusetts, and the DPH says more than 84 percent of those have made their way into people's arms. - Katie Lannan 4:30 PM Fri
"Plenty of People" Still Interested in J&J: Ahead of a key hearing about the future of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said interest remains high in the single-shot option if federal regulators lift the pause. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, is meeting Friday to consider potential changes to its guidance on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which the CDC and Food and Drug Administration recommended halting on April 13 after six reported cases of a rare blood clot among the nearly 7 million doses administered. Asked during a Friday morning press briefing how J&J could fit into the country's vaccine campaign if the panel suggests resuming its usage, Walensky replied that she did not want to get ahead of its decision but that both the FDA and CDC want to respond "swiftly." The agencies have been conducting a cost-benefit analysis to get a better understanding of populations that would still be interested in the J&J vaccine, particularly because of barriers making vaccine access more difficult, Walensky said. "I do think there's plenty of people who are interested in the J&J vaccine, if just for convenience as well as for a single-dose option," Walensky said. - Chris Lisinski 3:28 PM Fri
U.S. Surpasses Two-Thirds of 65+ Fully Vaccinated: More than four out of five Americans aged 65 and older have received at least one shot against COVID-19 so far, and as of Friday, a full two-thirds of that older population is fully vaccinated against the highly infectious coronavirus, federal health officials announced. U.S. Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters that 66 percent of the country's 65-and-older population is now fully vaccinated, representing more than 36 million people who are among those most vulnerable. "It's so important that we're protecting those over age 65," Walensky said during a press briefing with the White House's COVID-19 Response Team. "They have borne the brunt of the pandemic and, without a vaccine, are at high risk for severe disease, hospitalization, and death. We are well on our way to have one of our most vulnerable populations fully protected against this deadly virus, and that is a reason to celebrate." Massachusetts is running ahead of the national trend: through Thursday, the Baker administration reported that 846,900 out of about 1.17 million residents 65 and older had been fully vaccinated for a roughly 72 percent rate. Older adults have been among those hit hardest by the virus, with those 65 and older accounting for more than 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths in America. The vaccine rollout has led to an 80 percent reduction in deaths and a 70 percent reduction in hospitalizations among seniors, according to White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients. - Chris Lisinski 12:08 PM Fri
Polito Vaccinated Friday: Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito got her COVID-19 vaccine Friday at Worcester State University's wellness center. Polito's noontime appointment was captured by photographers. The lieutenant governor's vaccine was the only public event for either she or Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday. Baker got his first vaccine dose, a Pfizer shot, at the Hynes Convention Center on April 6. Polito, a Shrewsbury Republican, is 54, and this is the first week that individuals under age 55 -- excluding those who had previously qualified because of their job or a medical conditions -- became eligible to book vaccine appointments in Massachusetts. - Katie Lannan