WINCHESTER - With 19 active confirmed cases of COVID in Winchester, the town remains at .80 percent positivity for those tested. This leaves Winchester as one of the lowest in the area, slightly below Arlington (.82 percent) and more than half of Burlington (1.75 percent) and Medford (1.72 percent).

The town continues to vaccinate eligible residents, though the current number of vaccinated individuals remains at 89 percent. At least 85 percent of every single age group has been vaccinated with older teenagers (16-19) leading the way at more than 95 percent.

Statewide, nearly 1,300 people tested positive for the coronavirus yesterday out of 93,000 tests. This brings the statewide average to 1.82 percent, one of the lowest in the country. In total, the state tested more than 30,000,000 people and found 783,000 total cases since the pandemic began.

Nationwide, the seven-day average for new cases continues to decrease from the late summer highs caused by the Delta variant and unvaccinated people. In total, 45,200,000 people tested positive for the virus and 732,000 died since the pandemic began last year.

Fortunately, people continue to get vaccinated. Every state in New England has a vaccination rate above 62 percent with Massachusetts sitting at 68 percent (just behind Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut, and Vermont).

Unfortunately, too many states haven’t even vaccinated half their populations: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming have all vaccinated less than 50 percent of its residents.

The vaccine gap could widen even more once the FDA officially approves shots for those aged 5-11. This doesn’t even take into account booster shots which are soon to be available (possibly today) for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines (they’re already available for those who received the Pfizer vaccine).

In fact, the CDC states on its website that “Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation for a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccines in certain populations. The FDA’s authorization and the CDC’s recommendation for use are important steps forward as we work to stay ahead of the virus and keep Americans safe.”

Those eligible for a booster who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine include: anyone over 65, anyone over 18 who lives in a long-term care facility, anyone over 18 who has an underlying medical condition, and anyone over 18 who works or lives in a high-risk setting. All boosters are available six months after receiving the initial vaccine.

For those who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, boosters shots are also recommended for anyone 18 and older and who were vaccines two or more months ago.

“There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States,” the CDC states on its website (www.cdc.gov). “Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.”

As Dr. Walensky says, “These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19. The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe – as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given. And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant.”

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