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Politico: Massachusetts Playbook, Vaccination Situation

By Lisa Kashinsky, Massachusetts Playbook author

JULY 1, 2022 — THINK OF THE CHILDREN — Two reports released this week assessing the state’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout have some lawmakers and advocates concerned that the equity and access issues seen with adult vaccinations are persisting for kids.

THE STATS — Fifty-eight percent of children ages 5 to 11 had received at least one shot as of June 28, according to DPH data posted Thursday. In the first week of vaccines for the youngest set, 3 percent of those under age 5 got their first jabs. Both are higher than national stats for those age groups.

But the percentage of kids ages 5 to 11 who are at least partially vaccinated hasn’t budged for most of June. And data compiled by Alan Geller and his Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health colleagues show that in 182 of the state’s 351 cities and towns, less than half of children ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated. Geller said those communities “tend to be poorer” and among those hardest hit by Covid.

TIME CRUNCH — Parents only have a few weeks left if they want their kids fully vaccinated by the start of the next school year. For kids under 5, the Moderna vaccine is still two doses given 28 days apart. But the Pfizer vaccine is a three-dose regimen, with a three-week gap between the first two doses and an eight-week gap between the second and third shots.

“The window is rapidly closing to have that peace of mind before the start of the next school year,” state Rep. Bill Driscoll Jr., who co-chairs the legislative Covid-19 oversight committee, told Playbook.

Geller estimates 29 percent of public school students in Massachusetts contracted Covid during the academic year that just ended, based on state data. In a few districts, it was more than 50 percent.

SHOTS IN ARMS — Lawmakers called in their report for a temporary, Cabinet-level “special assistant” to the governor focused on boosting vaccination rates.

“The brutal disparities in race and class that we saw among adults replicated themselves almost immediately among kids,” state Sen. Jo Comerford, Driscoll’s co-chair, told Playbook. “Making the vaccine not only accessible, but easy to get and delivered locally and delivered through trusted messengers — all those lessons we had to learn for adults we also are having to learn with kids.”

The Baker administration recently launched new ads in English and Spanish encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated and said pediatric vaccinations are a key focus of its now $58 million vaccine equity program.


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