Looking up at the massive chandelier above him in the main ballroom of Encore Boston Harbor, Gov. Charlie Baker last Wednesday, May 5, proclaimed the state’s newest mass vaccination site as the most opulent place to get a COVID shot in the state.
“A tip of the hat to Brian Gullbrants (Encore President) and Encore for providing us what is by far the most over the top beautiful vaccine site we’ve got,” said the governor at the start of his media briefing.
The new site is hosted by Encore, administered by the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) and supplied by the Commonwealth. Assaad Sayah, MD, CEO of CHA, said the site is one of three new sites serving nine cities in what is the Metro North COVID Vaccination Partnership. While the City will continue to administer its own vaccine clinic at the former Pope John High School, the Encore site if meant to supplement that effort in a larger and flashier setting – while also looking to reach more employees and guests at the casino.
Sayah said the effort falls in line with what the state is trying to do in penetrating into communities where vaccine access and hesitancy is greater.
“This is an excellent opportunity to advance accces to the vaccine for COVID-19 here and around the surrounding communities, which we know were some of the hardest hit during the pandemic,” he said. “This is aligned to help the state’s efforts…and reduce travel, increase language access and help mobility.”
The other two vaccination sites are in Medford at Tufts, and in Somerville at 176 Somerville Ave.
Gov. Baker gave an overall view of vaccination efforts across the Commonwealth in his briefing, noting that the national goal of having more than 70 percent of the country with one dose of vaccine by July 4 has already happened in Massachusetts.
“We’ve already surpassed that milestone,” he said. “We’ve also been extremely successful for people returning for a second dose. Here, 99 percent of those that get a first dose return for a second dose.”
He said the most intriguing part of that statistic is that it has ensured the most elderly and vulnerable in the state are now protected and not dying or being hospitalized.
“The most senior among us are no longer the folks that are being counted in our case counts, ending up being hospitalized or fighting for their lives in the most part,” he said. “It’s been an extraordinary process to watch play out in real time as a real-life demonstration here in the Commonwealth.”
Gov. Baker also reiterated his commitment from last week to double the among of vaccine coming to the 20 most disproportionately affected communities. That meant CHA was going to be getting 5,850 COVID-19 vaccine doses for its efforts weekly – something that started last week.