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Baker: State Will Phase Out Four Mass Vaccination Sites

First responders sit in the waiting area for 15 minutes before leaving to ensure they do not have any adverse reactions to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
First responders sit in the waiting area for 15 minutes before leaving to ensure they do not have any adverse reactions to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

With the state on track to reach its goal of fully vaccinating 4.1 million residents by early June, Gov. Charlie Baker said Massachusetts would begin to dial back its reliance on mass vaccination sites and increase vaccine distribution to regional sites, mobile clinics and primary care providers to reach people who have not yet received the vaccine.

More than 2.6 million people in Massachusetts have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and over 70 percent of adult residents have received at least one dose, with more 85,000 doses a day being administered.

But with appointments available around the state as supply has caught up with demand, Baker said Monday at a State House press conference that his administration would begin to shift its strategy away from pushing vaccine through high-capacity mass vaccination sites at venues like Gillette Stadium.

"It's time to adapt our vaccination effort to make sure we get to some of the harder to reach populations," Baker said.

The governor said the new strategy would feature more doses going to the 22 regional vaccine collaboratives and expanding the use of mobile clinics, especially in hard-hit communities of color where rates of vaccination are lower.

The administration is also talking with the Massachusetts Medical Society to work through vaccine storage and appointment scheduling logistics to begin to increase supplies to primary care providers by the middle of May.

With more doses going to community-based providers, Baker said four mass vaccination sites - Gillette Stadium, Danvers Doubletree hotel, Hynes Convention Center and the Natick Mall - would close by the end of the June.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the pre-registration system that has been used to book appointments at these sites will remain in operation, including for parents who may want to have their children aged 12 to 15 vaccinated if regulators approve the shot for younger children in the coming months.

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