The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its first emergency approval to a COVID-19 vaccine last year, and people have been receiving one of the three approved vaccines ever since. I got mine back in early March.

With only 49 percent of the population fully vaccinated, the City of New Bedford lags far behind Bristol County at 62 percent and Massachusetts as a whole with 69 percent of the eligible population fully vaccinated.

That is sad for sure, but the time has come for the Commonwealth to pull the plug on the so-called pop-up vaccination clinics held to target individual neighborhoods where residents are less likely to seek vaccination.

The New Bedford Light reported the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has ceased funding for the clinics without explanation. The online publication reported New Bedford health officials will meet today with folks at DPH to try to convince them to reverse the decision.

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"The clinics targeted city neighborhoods where COVID-19 has struck the hardest and where barriers to access vaccines remain highest," the New Bedford Light article reads. "Since July, the city’s pop-up clinics have administered 2,068 vaccines in New Bedford of which 66 percent were first doses for previously unvaccinated residents."

Massachusetts cannot continue to fund the pop-up vaccination clinics forever. There has to be a cutoff and I think we have reached that point. CVS and other locations offer free COVID testing and shots to all. There is a CVS in almost every neighborhood in New Bedford. It's time people began taking responsibility for themselves. The New Bedford Light piece also provided a link to other free vaccine clinics scheduled in the coming days.

It is time for people to take responsibility. Step up, roll up, and protect yourself and your family if that is what you want to do. Otherwise, the state ought to fold its tent and go home. When and if the unvaccinated decide to take the poke should be up to them from this point forward.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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