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Nahant celebrates 75 percent vaccination rate

NAHANT — While the nation appears poised to miss President Joe Biden’s 70 percent vaccination goal for July 4, Nahant has already exceeded the mark. 

In Nahant, 82 percent of residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 77 percent of residents have been fully vaccinated, according to the Public Health Department. 

The local milestone comes as Massachusetts is reaching record low case numbers. The state reported only 31 confirmed cases this past week, its lowest figure since March 2020.

For Nahant Public Health Nurse Deb Murphy, seeing the vaccination rate continue to increase is some much-needed good news. 

“It’s wonderful to see every week we’re going up,” she said.

Murphy has noticed this past week that younger populations are getting vaccinated now that they are able to. Out of Nahant’s 106 residents who fall between the ages of 16-19 years old, 95 have received at least one dose of the vaccine while 84 have received both doses.

“That’s wonderful because I knew we were doing great with the older people, the 60-and-over (population),” Murphy said. “but to see the younger people coming on board — even our 12- and 15-year-olds … I’m so impressed with that age group, the 12-19, even the 12-29 (year-olds). That’s the ages that people are trying to reach out to. They seem to be more hesitant to get it (the vaccine), but we’re doing great.”

Town Administrator Antonio Barletta said he is grateful for the support that the town has received from Lynn to help get people vaccinated.

“The vaccination rate of Nahant residents is directly tied to our partnership with the City of Lynn, the Lynn Department of Public Health and the Lynn Community Health Center,” said Barletta. “Our health nurses, our Council on Aging, Town Hall staff and many volunteers worked together to help our residents secure vaccine appointments and even helped staff the clinics in Lynn and in Nahant.”

When it comes to continuing the fight against COVID-19, Murphy said it comes down to statewide efforts, rather than just those in Nahant. At the end of the day, if more and more people across the commonwealth get vaccinated, coronavirus will have the same impact on our daily lives as the seasonal flu, she said.

“I’m very happy with our town, but as you know we’re very small,” Murphy said. “We’re just a fraction of the state, but if we could get these numbers (up) across the state we would probably put COVID in the same reference group as our seasonal flu. It wouldn’t become a monster that it has become. 

“So that’s the goal, of course, is to get everybody vaccinated. As public health nurses, we’re still doing the investigations and the contact follow ups — following up with the positive cases — but with the seasonal flu there’s no investigation required. We just track the numbers.”

While getting vaccinated does a lot to protect individuals from the virus, recently across the globe different variants of COVID-19 have been popping up. The Delta variant of the virus, in particular, seems to be proving much more contagious, with some localities across the country reinstating mask guidance for public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.

Murphy noted that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proven to be effective against the variant, but there’s still more to know about the vaccine as well as the virus. She said they are still waiting on guidance when it comes to possible future doses of the vaccines, but she is optimistic about the summer. 

“I think that July and August are going to be our best months, and we will just see what happens in the fall,” Murphy said. “Nobody really knows how long the immunity for the vaccine protects us for. We know that with the flu vaccine we get six months — that’s why it’s an annual vaccine. We haven’t received the final word on that, so I think the fall will give us a lot more information with our numbers.”

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