Gov. Charlie Baker said he expects "minimal disruption" to vaccine distribution in Massachusetts despite Tuesday's decision to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the recommendation of the federal government.
He said the J&J doses make up only a small portion of the state's vaccine supply, so he doesn't expect the pause to have a major impact on Massachusetts.
"We're basically on track with where we thought we would be back in December, despite some bumps along the way," Baker said. "The J&J and issues associated with that, the feds need to buckle down on that and decide how we should move forward. In the meantime, we have very significant Pfizer and Moderna supplies and we expect that to continue."
In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating clots in six women that occurred in the days after receiving the J&J vaccine.
"It's a relatively small part of our distribution to date," Baker said, "and we do have an expectation that we'll continue to see modest growth in Pfizer and Moderna going forward."
Speaking from the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, the governor also announced a week-long initiative starting next week aimed at increasing vaccine access for people from communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
In partnership with the Boston Red Sox, El Mundo Boston and The Base, Baker said the state will be reserving up to 20,000 vaccine appointments at the Hynes Convention Center FEMA mass vaccination site from April 19-25 for residents from disproportionately affected communities.
As part of the "Red Sox Week" vaccination effort, there will be bilingual, Spanish speaking staff, Spanish language signage to direct guests and Red Sox themed attractions including a selfie station, Red Sox trophies, socially distanced visits with Wally the Green Monster and a raffle to win tickets to a Red Sox game.
"Our goal is to encourage more people to come to Boston with their family and to create an experience in Spanish from beginning to end," Baker said.
"It is the beginning of a fun journey, but also one that is very, very challenging," added Alberto Vasallo, president and CEO of El Mundo Boston.
The new initiative coincides with the opening of vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and older on Monday, April 19. That means an additional 1.7 million people will become eligible across the state.
Overall, more than 4.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered in Massachusetts, including more than 2.8 million first doses and more than 1.6 million second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
More than 1.8 million people have been fully immunized.
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 increased by about 1,400 Tuesday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 7.
The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 17,068 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to about 623,000.
There were about 710 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with about 160 in intensive care units.
The average age of those hospitalized was 61. There were an estimated 36,000 people with current active cases of COVID-19 in the state.
There were 9,017 probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities.