Commonwealth Announces Preregistration System for Mass Vaccination Locations

This week, the Commonwealth announced a new preregistration signup tool will be available for the state’s seven mass vaccination sites starting Friday, March 12.

The new system will make it easier to request and book an appointment at a mass vaccination site at a nearby location when they are available. More sites will be added to the preregistration system in the coming weeks. When preregistration launches on Friday, it will replace the current booking platforms for mass vaccination sites for online booking. The COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line will be available to help residents without internet access or with difficulty using the internet with the preregistration process.

The Commonwealth also announced the weekly distribution of vaccine doses statewide for different providers, reminding residents that there are 170 public vaccination sites statewide in addition to health systems that are offering appointments to their patients.

More information on vaccine sites can be found at: vaxfinder.mass.gov.

The Commonwealth also announced four dedicated educator days at mass vaccination sites and updates on vaccine distribution channels.

Preregistration System

Partnering with the Google Cloud Team, the Commonwealth will launch a preregistration system for mass vaccination sites only starting Friday, March 12. This tool will be available at mass.gov/COVIDvaccine. Preregistration will allow eligible residents to book an appointment at one of the state’s seven mass vaccination sites.

Details on the Preregistration Process

Eligible residents will complete the online form at mass.gov/COVIDVaccine to request to book an appointment at a mass vaccination site nearby.

After completing the form, residents will get a confirmation via their preferred method of contact (text, e-mail, phone) and receive a weekly update about their status. Residents may opt out of their preregistration at any time if they secure an appointment elsewhere.

When an appointment becomes available at a mass vaccination site, the resident will be notified and will have 24 hours to accept the appointment once it is offered to them. If an appointment is not accepted after 24 hours, the resident will go back into the queue to wait for another appointment.

To accommodate older residents and others who are unable to use the form, the preregistration form allows family members, caregivers or other companions to fill out the form on behalf of someone else. Residents who do not have internet access or someone to fill the form out for them can call 2-1-1 to preregister.

Available appointments will be offered to residents based on their vaccine eligibility and the availability of appointments at mass vaccination sites nearby. Initially, this program is only for the state’s seven mass vaccination sites. More sites will be added to the pre-registration system in April.

Massachusetts receives a very limited supply of vaccine from the federal government each week. Due to high demand and limited supply, there are only a small number of appointments for eligible residents. Given the limited number of available appointments due to constraints on vaccine supply, it could take several weeks for eligible, preregistered residents to receive a notification about an available appointment.

In addition to preregistering for a mass vaccination appointment, eligible residents are encouraged to book vaccine appointments at any of the 170 public vaccine sites across the Commonwealth. The state has also allocated a supply of doses to certain health care providers, hospitals and community health centers that will provide instructions to their patients on their vaccine process.

Once the preregistration system is launched on Friday, March 12, it will replace the weekly appointment release on Thursdays for mass vaccination sites only. Eligible residents will need to preregister online or contact the call center to request an appointment for a mass vaccination site.

Other Ways to Access a Vaccine Appointment

Eligible residents are encouraged to look for appointments at any of the state’s 170 public vaccine sites by searching vaxfinder.mass.gov. This webpage contains information on locations, hours and instructions to schedule appointments. New appointments are added frequently for many sites.

Vaccine doses are also provided to certain health care providers, hospitals, and community health centers. If you are an eligible patient, please follow instructions from your health care provider on how to access a vaccine.

State Distribution

This week, the state will receive a constrained supply of about 155,000 first doses. First doses and second dose allocations (total doses), were divided among providers as follows:

  • Mass vaccination sites: 83,000
  • Hospital Providers (both private and public): 79,000
  • Regional Collaboratives (12 total): 38,000
  • Community Health Centers: 25,000
  • Local Boards of Health (to complete 2nd dose appointments and support 20 disproportionately impacted communities): 25,000

Weekly allocations are subject to change based on federal availability, demand from providers, and obligations to meet second doses. Providers have 10 days to use their doses.

Federal Doses

In addition to the state allocation, the federal government distributes vaccines to CVS Health sites as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership as well as to certain Massachusetts federally qualified community health centers. These quantities fluctuate on a weekly basis and are not counted as part of the state’s weekly allocation.

This week, 95,000 first and second doses have been allocated to the retail pharmacy program and 19,000 Johnson & Johnson doses have been allocated to the federally qualified health centers.

Individuals looking to book appointments across any of these providers should visit mass.gov/COVIDvaccine to learn more.

Mass Vaccination Appointments

On Thursday, March 11, over 40,000 new first dose appointments for mass vaccination sites will be made available to eligible groups through the state’s website and the COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line. Additionally, over 40,000 second dose appointments have also been scheduled at mass vaccination sites.

This is the last week that mass vaccination sites will be posted online on Thursday morning. Starting March 12, all mass vaccination appointments will be booked through the pre-registration system.

As more individuals have received a first vaccine dose across the Commonwealth, there is a greater need to book second appointments, so the mass vaccination sites have fewer first dose appointments available on a weekly basis.

Educator Vaccination Days

On March 11, pursuant to a federal directive, approximately 400,000 K-12 educators, childcare workers and K-12 school staff are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts. K-12 educators, childcare workers and K-12 school staff may receive vaccine from any of the 170 public vaccine sites available on mass.gov/COVIDvaccine.

In an effort to support the Biden-Harris Administration’s directive for states to prioritize teacher vaccinations, the Commonwealth will designate four days where the state’s seven mass vaccination sites will only offer 1st dose appointments for K-12 educators, child care workers and K-12 school staff.

These dates are Saturday, March 27, Saturday, April 3, Saturday, April 10, and Sunday, April 11.

Workers in this group must use the pre-registration system to request an appointment at one of the seven mass vaccination sites and attest they are a K-12 educator, childcare worker or K-12 school staff.

All other vaccine providers (including Regional Collaboratives) are encouraged, but not required, to restrict their appointments to K-12 educators, child care workers and K-12 school staff on March 27, April 3, April 10 and April 11, for consistency. Providers may designate alternative dates, in lieu of the four dates designated by the state, if necessary.

Clinics may not restrict access to individuals who live or work in a particular area. 

All vaccine providers (including regional collaboratives) must submit their dates for educator clinics by Tuesday, March 16. The Command Center will post the schedule for all clinics next week.

K-12 educators, childcare workers and K-12 school staff are urged to book appointments through mass.gov/COVIDvaccine beginning on March 11 as well as to book through the federal retail pharmacy program’s CVS website. Given the limited supply of vaccine, K-12 educators, childcare workers and K-12 school staff may not receive vaccine until mid-April or later.

Mass Vaccination Locations

  • Springfield, Eastfield Mall
  • Natick, Natick Mall
  • Foxboro, Gillette Stadium
  • Danvers, Doubletree Hotel
  • Boston, Fenway Park (through 3/27) and Hynes Convention Center (starting 3/18)
  • Roxbury, Reggie Lewis Center
  • Dartmouth, Former Circuit City

Regional Collaboratives

  • Barnstable County
  • Berkshire County Boards of Health Association
  • Franklin County Regional Collaborative
  • Harrington Hospital, in Collaboration with LBOH
  • Heywood Hospital, in Collaboration with LBOH
  • Lawrence General Hospital, in Collaboration with LBOH
  • Marshfield-Plymouth
  • Northampton & Amherst
  • Randolph: Collaboration between Avon, Holbrook, and Randolph
  • Rutland
  • Worcester, Worcester State University, Commonwealth Medicine and St. Vincent Hospital
  • Lower Merrimack Valley: Collaboration between Amesbury, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimack, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury and West Newbury
  • Southern Worcester County Regional COVID-19 Vaccination Coalition: Collaboration between Uxbridge, Northbridge, Mendon, Douglas, Bellingham, Blackstone, Hopedale, Millville, Milford, Oxford, Upton, Sutton

Massachusetts Enters Phase III, Step 2 of Reopening Plan

Today, Massachusetts advances to Step 2 of Phase III of the state’s reopening plan. The Commonwealth has also announced plans to transition to Step 1 of Phase IV on Monday, March 22.

Phase III, Step 2

On May 18, 2020, the Commonwealth released a four-phased plan to reopen the economy conditioned on sustained improvements in public health data. As of October, 2020, the reopening had proceeded to Step 2 of Phase III of the plan. On December 13, 2020, in response to an increase in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations following the Thanksgiving holiday, the Commonwealth returned to Step 1 of Phase III, reducing capacities across a broad range of sectors and tightening several other workplace restrictions. 

Since the beginning of this year, key public health data, such as new cases and hospitalizations, have been closely monitored and a significant decline has been documented, allowing for a return to Step 2 of Phase III, effective March 1 for all cities and towns. This includes the following updates to businesses, activities and capacities:

  • Indoor performance venues such as concert halls, theaters, and other indoor performance spaces will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity with no more than 500 persons
  • Indoor recreational activities with greater potential for contact (laser tag, roller skating, trampolines, obstacle courses) will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity
  • Capacity limits across all sectors with capacity limits will be raised to 50% and exclude employees
  • Restaurants will no longer have a percent capacity limit and will be permitted to host musical performances; six-foot social distancing, limits of six people per table and 90 minute limits remain in place

Residents must continue to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and are encouraged to avoid contact outside of their immediate households. The Travel Advisory and other public health orders remain in effect.

Gathering Changes and Phase IV Start

Provided public health metrics continue to improve, effective on March 22, all communities in Massachusetts will move into Step 1 of Phase IV of the state’s reopening plan. This will open a range of previously closed business sectors under tight capacity restrictions that are expected to be adjusted over time if favorable trends in the public health data continue. Effective on the planned advancement to Step 1 of Phase IV, the following industries will be permitted to operate at a strict 12% capacity limit after submitting a plan to the Department of Public Health (DPH):

  • Indoor and outdoor stadiums
  • Arenas
  • Ballparks

Also effective on March 22, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.

Additionally, dance floors will be permitted at weddings and other events only, and overnight summer camps will be allowed to operate this coming summer. Exhibition and convention halls may also begin to operate, following gatherings limits and event protocols. Other Phase IV sectors must continue to remain closed. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

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.

Gloucester

Rockport

Essex

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.

Commonwealth Announces Expansion of Vaccination Sites, Updates to Phase Two

Today, the Commonwealth announced an expansion of COVID-19 vaccination sites in all parts of the Commonwealth, including new mass vaccination sites, pharmacy locations, and local sites. By mid-February, it is anticipated that there will be 165 vaccination sites in the Massachusetts.

The Commonwealth also announced updates to plans for Phase Two of the Commonwealth’s distribution plan. Individuals 75 years or older will now be the first priority group in Phase Two, and individuals 65 years and older have been moved into the second priority group, in addition to individuals with two comorbidities. Starting on February 1st, individuals age 75 or older can be vaccinated. Vaccination sites can be found on the Commonwealth’s map at mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap.

Vaccination Site Expansion

The COVID-19 Response Command Center has been working with health care providers, local officials, pharmacies and others to set up additional COVID-19 vaccination sites across the Commonwealth, with a focus on accessibility and geographic equity.

As of this week, Massachusetts plans to have 103 publicly available vaccination sites. Between these sites and other vaccination clinic sites (e.g. congregate care, health systems), the Commonwealth currently has the capacity to administer 242,000 doses of vaccine per week. This capacity is significantly more than the 173,175 first and second doses that the Commonwealth expects to receive from the federal government this week.

By mid-February, the Commonwealth expects there will be 165 publicly available vaccination sites. Between these sites and other vaccination clinic sites, the Commonwealth will have capacity to administer 305,000 vaccinations per week. This capacity is significantly more capacity than the 189,640 doses that the Commonwealth expects to receive from the federal government that week.

It is important to note that the state’s capacity to vaccinate is not the same as the number of shots administered. Vaccine capacity is determined by the state’s plan to establish sites, staff and logistics in place to do 305,000 doses by mid-February. The actual number of vaccinations administered to residents depends on several variables, including the availability of doses from the federal government.

The Commonwealth is planning to set up the capacity to administer more doses than we are currently receiving from the federal government. If Massachusetts continues to get the same number of doses from the federal government that the state is getting now, there could be empty seats at vaccine sites. 

The Commonwealth also announced new mass vaccinations sites in Springfield, Danvers and Boston:

  • The Springfield site at Eastfield Mall will open on January 29.
  • The Danvers site at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel will open on February 3.
  • In collaboration with the City of Boston, a site at the Reggie Lewis Center will open the first week of February.

These are in addition to sites already announced at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park. By mid-February, the Commonwealth’s mass vaccination sites will have the capacity to vaccinate 76,000 people each week. The Commonwealth expects to open at least seven mass vaccination sites as vaccine distribution continues. These mass vaccination sites have the ability to significantly and rapidly scale up operations if vaccine supply from the federal government increases.  

In addition to the mass vaccination sites, the Commonwealth is establishing public vaccination sites at a variety of different locations in every region of Massachusetts. Public vaccination sites listed on the map include places like pharmacies, community clinics, and other providers and organizations that have experience administering vaccines efficiently and safely. This week, 44 new public vaccination sites will open. These include new pharmacy and retail locations such as Big Y, Wegmans, Price Chopper, Retail Business Services at Hannaford and Stop and Shop Pharmacies, and CVS Health.

While many sites across the Commonwealth are open to all eligible individuals, some sites will be operated by local communities specifically for the residents in their community or the residents in their region. This week, 11 new restricted vaccination sites will open.

A map with all locations is available at mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap. Each location has additional details on eligible groups and signup details. The map is updated frequently as more sites come online.

Phase Two Priority Group Updates

The Commonwealth announced updates to Phase Two of the distribution plan, which will begin February 1st for the first priority group. Individuals 75 and older will now be the first priority group in Phase Two.

Consistent with CDC guidance, individuals 65 and older and individuals with 2 or more comorbidities will now be the second priority group.

Later that month, individuals age 65 or older and individuals with 2 or more comorbidities will be eligible to get the vaccine. The exact date will depend on the vaccine supply from the federal government and the uptake and demand for vaccine appointments.

Along with the addition of individuals age 65 and older into part 2 of Phase Two, the Commonwealth updated the listing to no longer specifically list public and private low income and affordable senior housing as its own category, as all individuals over the age of 65 will be eligible to receive vaccine by part 2 of Phase Two, regardless of where they live.

The order of Phase Two will now be:

  • Individuals 75+
  • Individuals 65+ or with 2+ comorbidities
  • Early education and K-12 workers, transit, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, public works, and public health workers
  • Individuals with one comorbidity

All Phase One eligible priority groups are now eligible for vaccinations, which includes all health care workers, residents and staff of long term care facilities, and congregate care facilities, home health care workers and non-COVID-facing health care workers and first responders.

The Commonwealth will announce further updates on timing for other priority groups as more information is available on vaccine shipments from the federal government. To learn more about the eligible groups, visit mass.gov/COVIDvaccine.

How to Get a Vaccine

  • Individuals with questions about how to get a vaccine should follow these steps:
  • Visit mass.gov/COVIDvaccine to find your phase and priority group
  • If you are eligible: use mass.gov/COVIDVaccineMap to find a vaccine clinic near you
  • Make an appointment online and fill out the attestation form

Paycheck Protection Program Reopened

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make First Draw PPP Loans on Monday, January 11, and Second Draw PPP Loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter.

Updated PPP guidance outlining program changes to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility was released on January 6 in accordance with the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act.

This round of the PPP continues to prioritize millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $284 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses through March 31, 2021, and by allowing certain existing PPP borrowers to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.

Key PPP updates include:

  • PPP borrowers can set their PPP loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs
  • PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures
  • The program’s eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, direct marketing organizations, among other types of organizations
  • The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan

A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower:

  • Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses
  • Has no more than 300 employees
  • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020

The new guidance released includes:

For more information on SBA’s assistance to small businesses, visit sba.gov/ppp or treasury.gov/cares.