Gov. Baker urges younger people to get COVID-19 vaccine

BOSTON (AP) — Emerging COVID-19 variants have been hitting younger people more seriously than earlier strains of the disease last year, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.

Baker said the trend adds even more urgency to getting younger people vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“One of the things I don’t want young people, or younger people, to walk away believing is that, you know, this isn’t about them, this isn’t going to affect them,” Baker said at a Statehouse press conference.

Baker said the state has done a good job vaccinating those 65 and older.

With that age group largely protected, those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s are ending up in the hospital more often, he added.

“These new variants are clearly more troubling for younger people than some of the earlier strains of COVID. And I would urge everybody, because everybody over the age of 16 is now eligible, to go get a vaccine,” he said.

Baker also said the state will continue to use the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine after federal health officials lifted a pause on the use of the vaccine.

“We will continue to make J&J available, especially to reach some of those harder to reach populations, where the ease of use and the single dose can make a big difference for people,” Baker said.

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JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE

Massachusetts is getting about 4,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, and several pharmacy chains are expected to resume administering the shot this week after the federal government lifted its temporary pause on it, officials said Monday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration had recommended the pause due to concerns about blood clots in a tiny percentage of people who received the shot. The pause was lifted Friday.

In Massachusetts, shipments of Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been sporadic and allocation numbers have varied from week to week, Kate Reilly, a spokeswoman for the state COVID-19 Response Command Center, told The Boston Globe.

Both CVS and Walgreens will use the J&J vaccine again starting this week.

The state currently has 6,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in reserve, Reilly said.

About 2.3 million people in the state have been fully vaccinated, according to state Department of Public Health data Sunday. A little more than 204,000 of those people have received the J&J vaccine.

Providers that were previously allocated Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses by the state or through the federal government may use their current remaining inventory, according to the statement.

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PORTUGUESE FESTIVAL CANCELED

The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament in New Bedford, which is described as the “largest Portuguese feast in the world and the largest ethnic festival in New England,” has been canceled for the second year in a row.

The announcement was made Sunday on Facebook by Michael Canasta, president of Clube Madeirense S.S. Sacramento, which sponsors and organizes the event.

The four-day event was scheduled for July 29-Aug. 1.

The event was founded in 1915 and typically draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city for Portuguese cuisine, entertainment and other cultural events.

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BOSTON COLLEGE VACCINES

Boston College is the latest Massachusetts college to require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus in the fall.

The Jesuit school announced Friday that all students, faculty and staff would need to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus before taking part in any on-campus activities.

Medical and religious exemptions will be allowed.

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