Most SouthCoast residents have shed their masks and are enjoying summer, apparently confident that the COVID-19 pandemic is just about over.

But public health experts say the pandemic is still with us, and people should continue to take precautions. They are also urging those who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.

Though New Bedford is no longer in the "red" when it comes to the number of new cases of COVID-19 being reported, the virus is still a threat to public health, mainly because of the low vaccination rate in the city.

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New Bedford Director of Public Health Damon Chaplan says the city's vaccination rate is only 45 percent, and the virus is still very much a threat, especially to teens and young adults.

Chaplan spoke with me this week about the city's response to the virus, vaccine equity, and what he and his public health partners are doing to get people vaccinated. His interview can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly public-affairs program highlighting non-profit organizations and individuals working to make Greater New Bedford a better place to live. The program airs every Sunday morning at 6 a.m. on 1420 WBSM.

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LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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