NEW BEDFORD — With the city experiencing nearly triple the number of COVID-19 cases as occurred this time last year, health officials remind residents that there’s still time get vaccinated. Health experts also note that booster shots are crucial for those who completed their vaccinations at least five months ago.

While cases are surging due to the highly contagious omicron variant, death rates are not. A statement from the mayor’s office notes that case fatality rates in New Bedford have fallen to less than half of the rate a year ago. And the highest fatality rates are occurring among unvaccinated residents. About 63 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the city during December of 2021 were among unvaccinated residents, and 31 percent were among those who completed their vaccinations five months ago or more, according to Health Department data.

Free, walk-up COVID-19 clinics in New Bedford offer CDC-approved booster shots, in addition to first- and second-dose vaccines. Most locations also provide pediatric vaccines and boosters for those who are 12 to 17 years old. Residents should bring their vaccination cards when receiving a booster shot.

Visit vaxnb.com for updated schedules of local COVID-19 vaccination and testing locations. Upcoming vaccine locations in New Bedford include:

  • Friday, Jan. 14: PAACA, 360 Coggeshall St., from 1-5 p.m., Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, boosters, with pediatric vaccines for children ages 5-11 and boosters for ages 12-17.
  • Saturday, Jan. 15: Andrea McCoy Recreation Center, 181 Hillman St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, boosters, vaccines for children ages 5–11 and boosters for ages 12-17.
  • Saturday, Jan. 15: St. Gabriel Parish, 343 Tarkiln Hill Road, from noon to 3:30 p.m., with Pfizer vaccines, including pediatric and booster doses, and Moderna vaccines.
  • Sunday, Jan. 16: Keith Middle School, 225 Hathaway Blvd., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with Pfizer, Moderna, boosters, pediatric vaccines for children ages 5–11 and boosters for ages 12-17.
  • Monday, Jan. 17: Andrea McCoy Recreation Center, 181 Hillman St., will be closed for the holiday.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 19: Andrea McCoy Recreation Center, 181 Hillman St., from 2-7 p.m., with Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, boosters, pediatric vaccines for children 5–11 and boosters for ages 12-17.
  • Thursday, Jan. 20: Alfred J. Gomes Elementary School, 286 S. 2nd St., from 4-6 p.m., with Pfizer, Moderna, boosters, vaccines for children 5–11 and boosters for ages 12-17.
  • Friday, Jan. 21: PAACA, 360 Coggeshall St. from 1-5 p.m., with Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, boosters, and pediatric vaccines for children 5–11 and boosters for ages 12-17.

City health officials stress that vaccinations are important during winter months, when indoor gatherings can lead to super-spreader events, clusters, hospitalizations and severe illness among people who are unvaccinated.

The rate of residents in New Bedford who are fully vaccinated is still low in the region, and daily case rates are high. Health officials note that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is not only about protecting yourself. It’s also about protecting your family, friends, and community.

Boosters critical after vaccinations

As of Jan. 6, more than 54 percent of New Bedford residents were fully vaccinated, but only about 15 percent of residents had received a booster shot. Boosters are critically important for eligible people — those who completed their vaccinations two months ago for Johnson & Johnson; five months ago for Pfizer; and six months ago for Moderna.

Immunity from vaccines can wane, and health experts stress that booster shots can reduce risks of hospitalization and severe illness, and are particularly important given the emerging omicron variant, which may be more likely to evade immune responses.

Pfizer boosters now approved for youth 12 years and older

The CDC, FDA, and Massachusetts public health officials all have given approval for the use of Pfizer boosters by vaccinated, eligible youth 12 years and older. Pfizer boosters for teens 12-17 years old are offered at nearly all of the city’s drop-in vaccine clinics.

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