BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts will close four of the state's seven mass COVID vaccination sites by the end of June as now it shifts the focus to smaller clinics to reach its goal of vaccinating 4.1 million people, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.
The mass vaccination sites at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Gillette Stadium, the Doubletree Hotel in Danvers and the Natick Mall will gradually close next month.
As of Monday, according to the CDC, 3.9 million people in Massachusetts have been fully or partially vaccinated. Another 180,000 people are scheduled to get their first dose in the next week.
Baker said Massachusetts is expected to reach its goal of 4.1 million people vaccinated by the beginning of June.
Back in March, the governor said that number was the goal "to reach herd immunity in Massachusetts."
"I think the way that we're thinking about this question about herd immunity is, the more people you get vaccinated, the safer everybody will be," Baker said at a news conference at the State House Monday.
Herd immunity, as defined by the CDC, refers to the point at which "a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely."
Boston University infectious disease doctor David Hamer told WBZ-TV, "We have a combination of vaccine hesitancy, children not being vaccinated and people getting medical or religious exemptions -- it's going to be harder to get to that 70%-plus level that we feel we need to reach herd immunity. "
Dr. Paul Biddinger heads the governor's vaccine advisory board. "There is an evolving thought about whether we can irradicate COVID in the community, probably not," he said.
Baker said the mass sites have fully vaccinated almost half a million people since the first location opened at Gillette Stadium back on January 18.
"These sites still have hundreds of thousands of appointments that are scheduled over the next three weeks," the governor said.
"Our mass vaccination sites have played a critical role in the Commonwealth vaccination process over a very short period of time."
With the state shifting away from mass vaccination sites, the focus is shifting to smaller scale operations in certain populations and specific cities and towns. That will include the 20 most disproportionately impacted communities.
There are currently more than 900 sites where people can schedule a vaccine appointment in Massachusetts.
"Whether you want to go to a CVS, or Walgreens, or a state run site, or community health center, there are openings everywhere across Massachusetts," Baker said. "It's critically important for everybody who wants a shot to sign up and get one."
"In the coming weeks, the state is anticipating that the CDC may authorize vaccines for children ages 12 through 15 and we will keep pre-registration available for parents who may want to bring kids to a mass vax site," Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said.
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