Gov. Charlie Baker said he is increasingly confident that Massachusetts can meet his goal of vaccinating more than 4 million residents by July 4.
He told The Boston Globe that based on a conversation he and other governors had with the White House on Tuesday he is more optimistic that the state will receive a large increase in vaccine doses, especially the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"We're going to see that number grow pretty exponentially," he said.
Baker also defended the state's rocky vaccine rollout to the Globe.
"We ran a pretty decent program so far, despite bumps along the way," he said.
During his Wednesday press conference, Baker said he expects Massachusetts to clear the "milestone" of 1 million people fully vaccinated from COVID-19 sometime on Thursday.
He also released the final schedule for the state's vaccine timeline. All residents age 16 and older will now be eligible to book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination by April 19.
The schedule is in line with what the administration outlined in December before the first shot went into an arm, and beats President Joe Biden's target of May 1 for states to lift all restrictions on vaccinations. It could still take weeks or longer, however, for newly eligible residents to get an appointment, with more than 3.8 million people still waiting to become eligible.
Massachusetts received a small increase of about 20,000 first doses this week, meaning 170,000 first doses will be disseminated for use next week.
For weeks, Baker has been blaming supply for the pace of vaccinations, but said the message from Washington this week means the state can move forward with the final stages of its vaccination program. Beginning next Monday, people 60 and older and certain workers, including restaurant employees, transit workers, retail and grocery store personnel, will be eligible to book a vaccine appointment.
People 55 and older or with one underlying health condition will become eligible April 5, and the program opens to the general public April 19.
"The news about the arrival of more vaccine from the federal government means we will be able to move faster to get doses to our residents, and this is long overdue and welcome. We are all eager to get back to something like normal, and see our friends and loved ones again," Baker said.
All residents can preregister to book an appointment at a mass vaccination site at mass.gov/COVIDVaccine.
The state so far has been concentrating its vaccination efforts on first responders, health care workers, residents age 65 and older, teachers, and those with underlying health conditions.