Cape COVID Task Force Addresses Vaccine Access

An illustration of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HYANNIS – Beginning Monday, every Massachusetts resident 16 or older will become eligible to make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, and the Cape Cod COVID Response Task Force said that it is doing everything it can to expand accessibility. 

The date approaches as coronavirus variants continue to spread throughout the region and Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine is put on pause in accordance with Food and Drug Administration recommendation. 

Vaira Harik with Barnstable County Human Services said that recent surges are beginning to ebb, with the coronavirus positivity rate for the county declining over the past 14 days from 5.9 to 5.14 percent.

“This is a welcome change from the over 10 percent positivity rate we saw over a month ago,” said Harik.

Dukes County and Nantucket County are currently looking at a positivity rate of 8.3 percent over the past two weeks.

Fatalities are also on the decline, said Harik, which she attributes to the most vulnerable older population having been already vaccinated against the virus in earlier priority groups of the state’s distribution plan. 

Cape and Islands State Senator Julian Cyr, a member of the task force, said that with Phase 3 of the state’s plan approaching, vaccination efforts by the Cape Cod Vaccine Consortium are ramping up. 

He said that they plan to get as many people vaccinated as possible before the height of the summer season, with a focus on essential workers. 

“We also are working to reach the remainder of the Cape’s vulnerable homebound population. Most every town has completed most vaccinations of their homebound population. There’s one or two exceptions to that. Really the Consortium’s focus is on making sure we are reaching the most vulnerable Cape Codders who were left behind,” said Cyr. 

He also hopes that the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be lifted soon after federal officials complete their investigation into potentially dangerous blood clots that affected 6 women nationwide, and said that it will likely affect pharmacy providers of the vaccine. 

Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment Director Sean O’Brien said that small scale clinics that were scheduled this week for transportation workers were cancelled as they intended to utilize the J&J vaccine, however they will be rescheduled for a later date.

With Phase 3 approaching on April 19, Cyr said that the task force anticipates high demand but a continued low amount of available doses.

He urged residents to have patience with booking vaccination appointments, and asked residents to consider both mass vaccination sites and pharmacies if trying to book an appointment as soon as possible. 

The task force also asked all residents to continue to wear masks and socially distance, even those who have already been vaccinated against the virus.

The task force encouraged residents to sign up with the state’s preregistration system available here.

Available vaccine appointments can be found on the state’s vaccine finder website, found here.

About 25 percent of the state’s total population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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