More than 2 million to be fully vaxxed in Massachusetts by week’s end despite drop in J&J vaccine supply

Massachusetts is expected to hit another major vaccine milestone as Gov. Charlie Baker said he “fully expects” more than 2 million residents will be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by the end of the week, despite a dramatic drop in supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Baker boasted during a Monday press conference in Worcester that Massachusetts also holds the distinction of being the first state with at least 5 million people to deliver at least one dose to more than half of its eligible residents.

After Massachusetts received a huge boost in the supply of Johnson & Johnson doses with roughly 100,000 last week, the state will see just 12,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine this week, Baker said. The drop in doses comes after reports of a factory mix-up that led to 15 million doses being dumped down the drain.

Baker said he expects to learn more about what to expect in terms of vaccine supply in a Tuesday call with President Biden’s administration.

Next Monday, the state opens up vaccine eligibility to everyone age 16 and older, but the Republican governor on Monday again warned that appointments could be in scarce supply as the federal supply continues to be restricted.

“I’ve said several times that, you know, supply will be an issue, but I do believe that if supply is there, by the time we get to Memorial Day a significant number of people in Massachusetts will have been vaccinated,” Baker said.

Community health centers like Worcester’s Family Health Center, where Baker made his appearance on Monday, play a “critical role” vaccinating residents, the governor said. The facilities have administered more than 300,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines so far, he said.

Monday also marked the 15-year anniversary of the state’s “landmark” health care reform law that created the Health Connector and required residents to get insured, Baker said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said Massachusetts now has the highest rate of health coverage, at 97%, and that the Connector has “maintained the lowest average premiums of any exchange market in the nation since 2017.”

“The pandemic has made one thing very clear — we can’t always predict what health risks we might face, individually or collectively,” Sudders said. “Throughout the pandemic, our health care system has never been overwhelmed in responding to the health needs of our residents during COVID. Our health system wasn’t overwhelmed because of our strong history and commitment to health care in Massachusetts.”

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