Baker urges residents to get COVID vaccine when eligible after receiving first dose

BOSTON (WHDH) - After receiving his first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker urged all Bay Staters to get the shot when they become eligible, calling the vaccination effort a “critical tool to help end the pandemic.”

RELATED: Massachusetts’ fully vaccinated count surpasses 1.5 million people

“I preregistered, was notified last week that I was now eligible to make an appointment, and I did,” Baker said during a news conference at the Hynes Convention Center. “So far, I feel great!”

Baker also stated that the vaccine is an essential step toward helping people once again feel safe around family, friends, and co-workers.

“I heard it from my father who said that getting vaccinated…For him, it was the first signal, the first sign that he might actually be able to hug his grandchildren,” Baker said.

While Baker warned that some people may experience side effects from the vaccine, he explained that his nurse ensured him that it’s simply a sign that the shot is “taking.”

“The vaccine is safe,” Baker said. “There are now something like 500 million some-odd doses that have been administered since this process began last fall.”

Baker reminded the public that the vaccine also protects against the many new virus variants that are now spreading in Massachusetts and across the United States.

“That’s one of the reasons that we are working as fast as we are to get shots into the arms of everyone who wants to get vaccinated,” Baker said.

Baker also announced the federal government this week directly allocated 385,000 doses to community health centers, the retail pharmacy program, and community vaccination centers, in addition to nearly 445,000 doses that were directly allocated to the Commonwealth’s mass vaccination sites, health systems and providers, regional collaboratives and local boards of health, mobile clinics, and the homebound program.

The state allocation includes 198,000 first and second doses of Pfizer, 138,000 first and second doses of Moderna, and 109,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, according to Baker.

“We expect to see increased shipments of J&J in the weeks ahead,” Baker said. “Right now, this week’s shipment should be thought of as sort of a one-time allocation.

Baker took time to point out that the state continues to outperform many others in vaccinating eligible residents. As of Tuesday, more than 2.5 million Massachusetts residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“Over 4 million doses of vaccine have been administered here in the Commonwealth and today we’ll hit the milestone of having over 1.5 million people who are fully vaccinated,” Baker said. “We’re making significant progress on vaccinating our residents and we continue to lead the nation in administering doses among all 24 states with more than 5 million people.”

Baker noted that the state’s COVID-19 metrics have also been relatively flat in recent days.

“There are clear signs that we are getting a little closer to returning to normal,” Baker said. “Many businesses are starting to reopen, vaccines are letting family see their friends and family that they haven’t been able to see for months, and this week many elementary schools across the commonwealth that have been remote-only returned to the classroom.”

Despite the positive progress, Baker asked residents to keep their guard up, keep gatherings small, and “hold on just a little bit longer” until the pandemic is no longer a threat.

All state residents over the age of 16 will become eligible for the vaccine on April 19.

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