Bristol County last in the state for vaccination as town cases continue decline

Feb 27, 2021

This article has been updated to include comments from Public Health Director Christopher Michaud.

Although the number of Covid-19 cases in Dartmouth continues to decline, Bristol County is lagging behind the rest of Massachusetts in vaccinations.

This week the town’s Board of Health reported 63 new instances of the viral illness — down 79% from the 300 cases reported at the height of the post-holiday surge in January. 

According to state data, as of Feb. 23, 12% of Bristol County residents have had the first dose of the vaccine — the lowest of all 14 counties in the commonwealth.

Around 20% of residents in the top three counties — Barnstable, Berkshire, and Dukes — have had their first dose.

Just 4.6% of Bristol County residents have received the second dose, tied in last place with Nantucket.

Bristol County was also the last in the commonwealth for cumulative number of doses shipped to the county compared to population, at 11.6%.

By contrast, Suffolk County has seen a rate of doses shipped per population of 66.8%.

The state had previously pulled doses of the vaccine from Dartmouth’s town-run clinic as well as Southcoast Health clinics in Fall River, Dartmouth and Wareham.

“I’m outraged that they denied us vaccine,” said Director of Public Health Christopher Michaud, speaking at the second to last town-run vaccine clinic at the Dartmouth High School on Feb. 27. “We could have administered 1,000 doses here on or around Feb. 20.”

“We had the capacity to make it better,” he added. “That’s a tragedy. The state knew that we were behind, and still withheld vaccine.”

Southcoast Health’s clinics have since been granted more doses to continue operating.

There have been 3,135 Covid-19 cases in town since the pandemic began last spring.

Dartmouth had a 14-day average daily incidence rate of 28 per 100,000 people and a 3.3% positivity rate in the two weeks ending Feb. 20.

Despite the numbers trending downwards, Michaud warned residents, “now is not the time to let down your guard.”

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” he added. “We’re not going to be getting the fully vaccinated numbers that we need to get.”

In Dartmouth’s public schools, 266 active cases were reported among students and staff in the week ending Feb. 26.

Active cases may include those who tested positive and are still isolating from the week before.

Meanwhile, UMass Dartmouth reported just two positive cases in week ending Feb. 25, or 0.15% of all those tested. 

As of Feb. 26, Massachusetts has an estimated 30,111 active Covid-19 cases, with 15,744 coronavirus-related deaths reported since the pandemic began.

There have been 548,874 total confirmed cases in the commonwealth thus far, representing over 8% of the population.