On Friday, September 24th, the Baker-Polito Administration provided an update on Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot availability. In accordance with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, boosters are available for all residents over 65 and individuals 18 years and over who are at increased risk due to medical conditions, or those that are at increased risk because of occupational or institutional settings who have previously received the Pfizer vaccine.
"The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and getting vaccinated remains the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. If you are eligible, here are the steps to find a convenient location for getting a Pfizer COVID-19 Booster:
Visit the Vaxfinder tool at vaxfinder.mass.gov for a full list of hundreds of locations to receive a booster. Residents will be able to narrow results to search for locations that are offering boosters, with some appointments available now for booking. Additional appointments are expected to come online in the coming days. Many locations will be booking appointments out weeks in advance.
For individuals who are unable to use Vaxfinder, or have difficulty accessing the internet, the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line (Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday 9AM-2PM) by calling 2-1-1 and following the prompts is available for assistance. The COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line is available in English and Spanish and has translators available in approximately 100 additional languages.
The COVID-19 booster is safe, effective, and free. Individuals do not need an ID or health insurance to access a booster and do not need to show a vaccine card when getting a booster. Additional information on the COVID-booster, including FAQs, can be found at Mass.gov/COVID19booster.
Individuals can check if they are eligible for a booster using the eligibility tool at mass.gov/BoosterCheck. As more information becomes available on booster vaccines for individuals who have received either the Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the Administration will provide updated information.
I appreciate your commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our Commonwealth. Because of that commitment, Massachusetts leads the nation in vaccine administration, with over 99% of the 65 and older population having received at least one dose. Over 4.6 million individuals are fully vaccinated, with almost 90% of all adults having at least one dose.
STATE HOUSE REOPENING PLANS
On September 23rd, the House voted to require all members and staff of the House of Representatives who plan to work from the State House to be fully vaccinated. Accommodations will be available for anyone with a medical issue or sincerely held religious belief preventing them from being vaccinated. The vote also declared a COVID-19 state of emergency in the House, which will allow members who do not want to be vaccinated or show proof of vaccination to participate remotely. In the coming weeks, the House Working Group on COVID-19 will provide guidance on COVID-19 protocols, as well as the deadline to be vaccinated. The anticipated deadline to show proof of vaccination is November 1st. The Working Group is also expected to implement a mask mandate in all House-controlled spaces.
The Statehouse Phase 1 of the reopening plan will allow access for those Members who wish to return for in person voting, along with core staff who must be physically in the building to conduct session and House business. Phase 2 will broaden access to the building to all remaining House staff and employees, along with individuals who have a need to conduct business at the State House; while Phase 3 will allow entry by members of the public, by appointment, for meetings and committee hearings. The State House will be fully open to all parties for all activities in Phase 4, pursuant to federal and state guidelines.
The House and Senate should release shortly. The public needs to comment on whatever is proposed and the process needs to be completed by early November. (The early November deadline is because people need to live in state representative districts for one year prior to the election in order to be eligible to run, so we need to finish one year prior to the November 2022 state election.) Normally, the process is completed by now, but the census did not release data to start the process until mid August.
In a formal session on Thursday, Sept. 23, lawmakers accepted H4118, An Act Relative to Reprecincting, and sent it to Governor Baker. This legislation lets state lawmakers draw legislative districts first and then allows municipalities to draw their new lines no later than 30 days after the Legislature enacts theirs or by Dec. 15, a one-time change for the current redistricting process. This makes Massachusetts consistent with most other states in which the state re-precincts prior to municipalities.
In your service,