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The Checkup for May 12: Doctors’ offices to play wider role in vaccinating younger teens

By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle​ ​ ​

The Checkup for May 12: Doctors’ offices to play wider role in vaccinating younger teens

TEENS JOINING RANKS OF VACCINATED: A Georgia middle school student, Elise Robinson, receives her first coronavirus vaccination on Wednesday in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group.

AP

TEENS AND VACCINES: Primary care providers and pediatricians are expected to play a significant role in vaccinating teens and pre-teens, Gov. Charlie Baker said in a stop at a Moderna Therapeutics lab in Norwood on Wednesday.

One of the vaccines that those medical professionals will be administering relatively soon is that lab’s product, which the CEO, Stephane Bancel, said is "weeks away" from an emergency use authorization enabling it to be given to younger teens. It is only administered as of now to adults 18 and older.

Baker said that 400,000 people are aged 12 to 15 in Massachusetts and could start getting vaccine doses Thursday, either through appointments or at walk-in clinics.

VACCINE REPORT: The number of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Massachusetts grew by 44,581 in Wednesday's report from the Department of Public Health, rising to 3,050,054 from the 3,005,473 reported Tuesday. The number of people who have received at least a first dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines rose by 13,673, to 3,857,773, and the number of Johnson & Johnson vaccines administered was up by 1,398, to 226,888.

BY THE NUMBERS: The DPH said 13 new deaths were reported in Massachusetts, pushing the statewide total to 17,357. Confirmed cases rose 626 to 654,734. Berkshire County saw no new COVID-19 deaths as of Wednesday, leaving a total of 285 deaths, with the confirmed case count up 15 to 6,456, the state Department of Public Health said. A week ago, the death total was 283 and the case total was 6,375.

NUMBER OF ACTIVE CASES: 16,685 statewide, compared to 21,300 a week ago.

WESTERN MASS. PICTURE: The case totals (and death counts) in neighboring counties: Franklin, up 5 to 2,531 (113); Hampshire, up 11 to 9,069 (294); Hampden, up 99 to 51,532 (up 4 to 1,504).

The Checkup for May 12: Doctors’ offices to play wider role in vaccinating younger teens

DPH

FREE TESTING SITES EXTENDED: The Baker administration said Wednesday the state's free "Stop the Spread" COVID-19 test sites will remain operating through Sept. 30. The free sites, which are open to all Massachusetts residents, launched last July. More than 2.3 million tests had been conducted as of March 3.

However, testing has slowed as more people become vaccinated against the coronavirus. Gov. Charlie Baker said testing remains an important part of the COVID-19 line of defense.

Free testing sites will continue to operate through the month of June and into July, he said. “Stop the Spread” testing sites are open at three Berkshire Health Systems locations. Tests will be conducted for any reason, with the state picking up the cost. To schedule a test, call the toll-free hotline, 855-262-5465, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Locations are: Pittsfield, 505 East St., St Luke’s Square, adjacent to BHS Urgent Care Center; North Adams, 98 Church St., next to the city library; Great Barrington: 475 Main St. Tests can also be obtained through CVS by filling out a form online.

HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Medical Center reported caring for 2 COVID-19 patients, down from 4 a week ago and 8 a month ago; no cases were reported at Fairview Hospital. Statewide, 428 people are hospitalized, down from 485 a week ago. Of those hospitalized, 114 are in ICU and 76 are on ventilators.

WIDER WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 159,992,785, with 3,324,907 deaths, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen at least 32,808,521 cases and 583,558 deaths.

LEADING INDICATORS: The DPH provides the following statistics as indicators in the fight against coronavirus infection. Wednesday’s figures:

– Seven-day average of new confirmed cases: 507.1. That is down from 1,579 on Feb. 15.

– Seven-day weighted average of positive test rate: 1.25. That is down from 2.19 on Feb. 15.

– Seven-day average of number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals: 448.5. That is down from 1,258 on Feb. 15.

– Seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths: 5.4. That is down from 38.9 on Feb. 15.

JUST THE FAQS: The Berkshire Eagle is regularly updating answers to frequently asked questions about access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit the Vax FAQs in the Coronavirus section on the home page at berkshireeagle.com.

COVID-19 WEBSITE AND INFOLINE: For information on vaccines and to schedule an appointment, when you are eligible, visit getvaccinatedberkshires.org. 

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Material from the State House News Service was included in this report. How can we make The Checkup better or more informative? Email us at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com.

The Checkup for May 12: Doctors’ offices to play wider role in vaccinating younger teens

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