This week, Massachusetts residents age 75 and older became eligible to begin receiving vaccinations for COVID-19. When the applications for appointments opened last week, many were frustrated with the process, which was compounded by the high volume of individuals looking to fill a limited number of vaccination appointments.
As state representative, I have received many comments from individuals on Cape Ann expressing that frustration. As the caretaker of my own parents, I shared in the frustration myself. Those concerns and frustrations, along with those of many of my colleagues in the Legislature, have been shared with the Baker-Polito Administration in order to communicate the need for action on this issue.
Starting today, Massachusetts residents can dial 2-1-1 and follow prompts to reach the Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line. Individuals ages 75 and older will be able to speak to a representative live on the phone to assist them with an appointment through the state’s online system.
These representatives have the same access to appointments as those on the public website; it will not give individuals access to additional appointments. If no appointments are available, callers will have the option to be placed on a call back list for the mass vaccination sites. The caller will receive a call back when an appointment becomes available for them at a mass vaccination site, and the list will be called on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is currently only for individuals ages 75 and older who cannot use or have difficulty accessing the internet and therefore are unable to schedule an appointment through the online platforms. The Massachusetts Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line is only able to support individuals with scheduling an appointment and representatives are not able to answer general questions about COVID-19 or provide individual health care advice.
I would also encourage residents to reach out to your community’s Health Department or Council on Aging to see if there are any COVID-19 vaccination clinics scheduled or planned, particularly if you may have issues reaching a vaccination site that is not on Cape Ann. Such clinics are organized for the residents of those communities and as such do not appear on the COVID-19 vaccination map. Additionally, veterans may have access to vaccination clinics according to federal vaccination guidelines through the VA. Please reach out to your community’s Veterans Services department for details.
As Massachusetts moves through the current phase of vaccine distribution towards broader public availability, it is critical that the process is as streamlined and accessible as possible. With additional funding coming from FEMA to assist Massachusetts with its vaccine rollout, I will continue to advocate with my colleagues in the Legislature and the Administration for improvements to the process.