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Walk-in Vaccination Now Widely Available; Racial Disparities in Vaccination Rates Persist

Liz Lerner
A sign announcing free COVID-19 vaccines at Shaw's in Falmouth.

The vaccination effort aimed at stopping the COVID-19 pandemic has reached a turning point, as demand for vaccines slows and most clinics have begun offering them on a walk-in basis.

All members of Cape Cod’s vaccine consortium, which includes Cape Cod Healthcare, community health centers, and Barnstable County, now allow people to get the vaccine without an appointment, according to state Sen. Julian Cyr.

Retail pharmacies that offer the vaccine are beginning to take walk-ins as well.

“This is pretty good news,” Cyr said. “This is going to help further maximum participation.”

A spokesman for Cape Cod Healthcare confirmed that no appointment is needed for its vaccination clinics at the Cape Cod Melody Tent.

Walk-ins for Cape Cod Healthcare clinics will be invited to enroll in the patient portal to be scheduled for a second dose.

For those looking for a single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, the Community Health Center of Cape Cod is offering them on a drive-in basis, with no appointment, next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds.

The mass vaccination site in Dartmouth will begin taking walk-ins by Monday.

Although the Cape and Islands have led the state in vaccination rates for weeks, racial disparities in who is getting vaccinated remain.

On Cape Cod, for example, 37 percent of Black residents have gotten at least one dose, substantially lower than the 62 percent of white residents who have received at least one dose.

“We don't want to rest on our laurels,” Cyr said. “I'm not happy about the gap that I see in the data.”

One notable exception to the widespread disparities is on Martha’s Vineyard, where Asian, Black, and white residents have been vaccinated at rates comparable to one another, at around 70 percent.

As part of the effort to reach more people, including people of color, Cyr said vaccine providers on Cape Cod are getting ready to announce a mobile vaccination unit. He said it will be staffed by public health workers who have the cultural competence and language skills necessary to reach the target populations.

Further details on the mobile unit have not been released.

The number of new COVID-19 cases has been dropping on the Cape, South Coast, and Islands over the last few weeks, consistent with a statewide trend.

Vaira Harik, interim director of the Barnstable County Department of Human Services, said this week’s case report was happily mundane.

“Our new case numbers and fatality numbers are vastly improved and are looking very good,” she said.

Daily new cases on Cape Cod were in the teens Monday through Wednesday of this week and 21 on Thursday, dropping from a number that was in the 50s as recently as mid-April.

At last count, seven people were hospitalized on Cape Cod with COVID-19, and none were in intensive care, Harik said.

Only one COVID-19 death has been recorded on Cape Cod since April 24.