Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday toured Moderna’s laboratory facility in Norwood and provided an update on COVID-19 and vaccinations in the state.
Baker said that as of Tuesday, Massachusetts saw 472 new COVID cases from around 42,000 tests. He also said the seven day average positive test rate is 1.32 percent, which is down to a similar percentage that had been seen last fall. He said that 441 Massachusetts residents are currently hospitalized with the virus, and 117 are in the ICU.
The state’s “Stop the Spread” initiative, which offers free testing sites in certain areas across the state, will be expanded through the end of September, Baker announced on Wednesday. The program was originally supposed to end on June 30.
Baker announced that three million Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated, and almost 74 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Massachusetts is “one of only five states in the country that has crossed that 70 percent milestone,” Baker said.
He also announced that the state is making preparations to vaccinate 12-15 year olds, following the FDA authorization on Monday for the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to kids of those ages, “and today, the advisory committee on immunization practices will meet and make a recommendation on this approval,” Baker said.
“This group represents about 400,000 individuals here in the Commonwealth and we’re working with our providers and our mass vaccination sites and others to put plans in place to vaccinate this group once we received word of a final approval.”
He said that any parents who have questions about the vaccine should reach out to their primary care provider or their child’s pediatrician.
“Pending the CDC’s approval for this group, people age 15-15 will be able to book appointments or access a walk-up appointment beginning on Thursday, May 13,” Baker said.
He also said that he is “pleased” that Moderna is also working on approval of its vaccine for those under the age of 18.
“We applaud their progress and look forward to Moderna’s vaccine working their way through this important and rigorous approval process as well,” he said.
Massachusetts still remains on track to reach its target of vaccinating more than 4 million people by the beginning of June, but Baker said that “we have a lot of work to do” still to reach people in hardest hit communities.
Finally, Baker announced that the state will soon launch an employer vaccination program, which will allow employers to schedule blocks of time for their employees to get vaccinated at one of the state’s mass vaccination sites, or schedule a time for a mobile vaccine clinic to come to the workplace.
He said more information on this program will be announced soon. “The vaccine is free to everyone, and it remains the best way for folks to protect themselves their loved ones, their neighbors, and their coworkers,” Baker said.