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Local Vaccine Supply Shortages Continue to Hamper Cambridge as Rollout Continues

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Cambridge Chief Public Health Officer Claude Jacob said local vaccination efforts remain hampered by supply shortages, despite federally run sites having recently received more doses.

Jacob presented the update during the weekly Covid-19 pandemic response at a meeting of the city council Monday.

The state has recently increased supply to mass vaccination sites, such as the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, in order to bolster rollout, according to Jacob.

“The vaccine supply coming into the Commonwealth continues to increase, with much of the additional supply going to federally run programs at the area pharmacies and the FEMA program that’s anchored at the Hynes Convention Center,” Jacob said.

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Last month, the state approved the Metro North partnership led by Cambridge and eight other cities to establish locally run vaccination sites, including one at Tufts University.

Jacob said, however, the program has yet to launch due to a shortage of supply.

“Once we have confirmation of the vaccine supply and our delivery, both timing of arrival and quantity, we will conduct outreach across the city to encourage residents to use the regional site to get their Covid vaccine, as well as to help them register and answer any questions and concerns,” Jacob said.

He added that Cambridge continues to be a “moderate risk level community” for the spread of the coronavirus, but noted the recent increase in case positivity among young adults.

“Statewide new infection rates over the last two weeks continue to be the highest among young adults in their 20s followed by teens ages 15 to 19,” Jacob said.

“Just know that about 40 percent of the new cases in the last two complete weeks have been among residents in their 20s,” he added.

The city is also working to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 variants. The B.1.1.7 virus variant has been detected at all four Cambridge screening sites and is “likely already circulating,” according to data from a city waste water analysis.

As of April 6, 34 percent of Cambridge residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 19 percent of the city population fully vaccinated, according to City Manager Louis A. DePasquale.

Massachusetts residents ages 16 and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine beginning April 19.

The council also narrowly approved an amendment for a zoning petition that previously required a green roof or biosolar to be installed during construction or major renovations of buildings 20,000 square feet or larger. The amendment, which passed 5-4, added the option of installing a full solar array instead.

Vice Mayor Alanna M. Mallon, who proposed this amendment, said she did not “feel comfortable moving forward” with the original petition, pointing out that the Planning Board voted against it 8-1.

“Over the past couple of weeks I’ve met with local builders, both commercial and affordable, as well as affordable housing builders in other cities,” she said. “They have all said they have significant concerns about this petition and the fact that it lacks the option for a full solar array.”

Councilor Patricia M. “Patty” Nolan ’80, however, refuted the idea that green roofs or solar panels were exclusive options.

“The idea that green roofs are at odds with solar is inaccurate,” she argued. “They actually make solar more effective.”

Nolan cited green roof mandates in Portland, Ore., Copenhagen, and Switzerland as successful examples. She pushed back against a speaker during public comment who said developers would already be installing green roofs if they were effective.

“We should never ever look to developers or the free market to lead on climate change, that is why we’re in the mess that we’re in today,” she said.

—Staff writer Ryan S. Kim can be reached at ryan.kim@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer David R. Shaw can be reached at david.shaw@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @davidrwshaw.

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