U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra will be in Massachusetts on Tuesday to promote coronavirus vaccines as the White House is expected to recommend booster shots.
U.S. experts are expected to recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans, regardless of age, eight months after they received their second dose of the shot, to ensure lasting protection against the coronavirus as the delta variant spreads across the country. An announcement on the U.S. booster recommendation was expected as soon as this week, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News.
Becerra, a member of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 Response Team, started his day with a visit to the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, a family health clinic that received funding through the American Rescue Plan Act and was an early participant in the Biden administration's health center vaccination program.
After the tour, he was scheduled to take part in a roundtable on health equity with Trahan, Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez and others.
Massachusetts has given a first dose, including the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, to at least 55% of Black residents and 53% of Hispanic residents, according to the Baker administration. Those totals far outpace the national average of 29.8% for Black residents and 37.1% of Hispanic residents.
Becerra was scheduled to take part in a similar tour and roundtable on vaccines at Lowell General Hospital, followed by a third event at UTEC in Lowell. Press availabilities were to follow each event.
In choosing to visit Massachusetts as the delta variant spreads rapidly across all parts of the country, Becerra picked a state that is near the top for vaccinations. The state has seen new COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations climb steadily this summer, but is still experiencing far fewer infections and negative outcomes than other states.
With 65% of its population fully immunized, Massachusetts has the second highest vaccination rate in the country, behind only Vermont. The CDC reports that 85.6% of adults in Massachusetts have had at least one dose.