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City Health Officials Announce Updated COVID-19 Boosters and Expanded Vaccine Partnership with AIDS Project Worcester

For Immediate Release: 9/9/2022 2:07 pm

WORCESTER – Worcester officials announced this week that updated COVID-19 boosters are available at City-run clinics effective immediately. Furthermore, in an effort to provide enhanced support for residents, the Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with AIDS Project Worcester (APW) to boost capacity to deliver both monkeypox and COVID-19 vaccines.

Updated COVID-19 Boosters

Worcester received its first orders of the new COVID-19 boosters (commonly referred to as “bivalent boosters”), which have been formulated to protect against Omicron variants in addition to previous strains.

They are currently available at the City’s weekly clinics at the Worcester Public Library on Wednesdays, as well as new standing clinics on Mondays and Fridays at APW. The boosters are expected to be available at all other recurring clinics—including those at the YMCA, UMass Memorial Health Mercantile Center clinic, and Saturdays at the Worcester Public Library—in the coming weeks.

Fully vaccinated individuals are eligible for the updated booster at least two months after their last dose, whether it was the final of a primary series or a previous booster; anyone who has already received one or two original boosters is still eligible for the updated version. Individuals ages 12 years and up can receive the updated Pfizer booster, and those ages 18 years and up may choose to receive the updated Moderna booster.

Health officials urge residents to be up to date on their vaccines and to get the updated booster as soon as they are eligible since Omicron variants remain dominant. By getting protected now, residents can help to prevent a third consecutive Fall/Winter surge. In 2021, the Omicron surge led to a citywide mask mandate, followed by the current, ongoing mask advisory.

The original versions of the Pfizer and Moderna boosters (also referred to as “monovalent”) will no longer be offered. It is expected that new boosters could be released every year to optimize protection against the latest COVID-19 strains, leading to an annual shot similar to the flu vaccine.

Officials also announced that the Novavax vaccine is now available at City-run clinics at APW and Wednesday at the Worcester Public Library. Monday’s state-managed clinic at the YMCA also carries it. Individuals ages 12 years and up are eligible for the two-dose primary series, which may be more appealing to residents who chose to not previously receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines that are formulated using mRNA.

The updated listing of weekly clinics, which are free and open to the public, is below. Residents may also reach out to local pharmacies to inquire about the dose of their choice.

  • AIDS Project Worcester (165 Southbridge Street)
    Mondays and Fridays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Appointments encouraged
  • Central Community Branch YMCA (766 Main Street)
    Mondays, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • UMass Memorial Health Mercantile Center Clinic (100 Front Street)
    Mondays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    Also offering PCR testing
  • Worcester Public Library (3 Salem Square)
    Wednesdays, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 12 – 5 p.m.

A full schedule of vaccine and booster clinics around the City can be found at worcesterma.gov/coronavirus/vaccination.

AIDS Project Worcester Partnership

Starting today, new standing COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinics will take place every Monday and Friday at APW (165 Southbridge Street), from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. These will replace APW’s previously scheduled vaccine appointment windows on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In addition, the Division of Public Health has provided temporary staffing to expand APW’s capacity to deliver monkeypox vaccines. Appointments can be made by eligible individuals at aidsprojectworcester.org/monkeypox-and-vaccines or by calling 508-755-3773 x113.

Worcester’s confirmed number of monkeypox cases remains at 12. Cases in Massachusetts have risen to 347, and there are now 21,504 nationwide. While the City’s cases have plateaued, health officials still recommend that residents take precautions, and they continue to prioritize treatment and prevention efforts for the most at-risk populations, including outreach to local colleges and universities as students return to the region. More information can be found at worcesterma.gov/public-health/monkeypox.

Current COVID-19 Numbers 

The seven-day daily average of new positive COVID-19 cases in Worcester is 33.4 and has roughly stayed even over the past five weeks. Currently, 60 inpatients at the City’s hospitals are COVID-19-positive, with five in intensive care units. The total inpatient count declined since last week but remains above the numbers seen in June and July. A total of 547 Worcester residents have passed away due to COVID-19.

Officials hope that the availability of the Novavax vaccines and updated boosters will increase the City’s rates. Its percentages of fully vaccinated individuals and those with at least one dose remain at 64 percent and 75 percent, respectively. Of those fully vaccinated, 52 percent have received a booster dose.

The City’s two-week test positivity rate is 7.59 percent, and COVID-19 levels in wastewater have oscillated around one million copies per liter of sewage, seeing occasional, temporary spikes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered Worcester County’s Community Level back to Low this week.

Officials are monitoring the potential impact of Labor Day gatherings, and the City’s COVID-19 data dashboard is updated every Friday with the most recent numbers.

The seven-day daily average of new positive cases over the last week in Shrewsbury and Grafton were 5.0 and 1.7, respectively.

In addition to the citywide advisory, face coverings remain mandatory at Worcester hospitals. Any other business, institution, or organization may also enact its own mask requirement, and mask advisory signs remain available to download on the City’s website.

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