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Cape Cod Officials Set Goal: 75% Vaccinated by Memorial Day

Liz Lerner
The Cape Cod COVID-19 task force would like to see 75 percent of Cape residents vaccinated with at least one dose by Memorial Day.

Cape Cod’s COVID-19 task force has set a goal to get 75 percent of Cape residents vaccinated with at least one dose by Memorial Day.

That means reaching another 11 percent of the population.

State Senator Julian Cyr, the task force spokesman, said the job ahead will be harder than reaching people who were more eager to get the vaccine.

“We were seeing double-digit jumps week-to-week in vaccination rates, and that has slowed a bit,” he said. “So we've got our work cut out for us, but we are doing everything we can.”

New state data released Thursday show 64 percent of Cape Codders have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. On Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the number is higher, at 67 percent.

Plymouth and Bristol Counties continue to trail behind 49 and 43 percent, respectively.

Cyr said the Cape and Islands are well positioned for tourism this summer because people have followed public health guidance, and vaccination rates are part of that effort.

“Unlike other tourist destinations in the United States, Cape Cod has adhered to strict safety protocols throughout the pandemic,” he said.

The road to this point has been long and difficult, he said, “but I think we are clearly emerging prepared for the summer.”

Officials have noted, however, that vaccination rates for the Cape and Islands could be somewhat lower than what state data show. That’s because many believe the Census undercounts the true population in some parts of the Cape and Islands.

The population issue has been discussed prior to the pandemic, in places such as Nantucket, based in part on water usage.

Now, COVID-19 vaccination data lend more support to the idea of an undercounted population, according to Cyr.

He said the state shows 138 percent of Provincetown residents over age 65 have been vaccinated — a number that’s impossible unless the underlying population count is too low.

The Cape and Islands have been leading the state in vaccination rates for weeks, a distinction officials have attributed in part to effective vaccinating, and in part to the fact that the region’s population skews older, making more people eligible early.

This week, the vaccine clinics sponsored by Barnstable County finished migrating to an online appointment system called Color, which the state adopted for mass vaccination sites.

Health director Sean O’Brien said the county will be evaluating how well it works over the next few days.

“The nice thing about it is, it does assist us with the second-dose clinics,” he said.

Vaccine scheduling is now available through a variety of local sources, including the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, Cape Cod Healthcare, Community Health Center of Cape Cod, and Outer Cape Health Services.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.