Coronavirus

What to know about the COVID-19 vaccination effort in Mass. this week

A weekly roundup of vaccination information you need to know.

Revere resident Badar Kistas receives a COVID-19 vaccine from RN Claire Karas at a CVS in East Boston. Erin Clark/Boston Globe

Massachusetts continues to press forward in its effort to get the COVID-19 vaccine into as many arms as possible. 

With more mass vaccination sites and pharmacies being regularly added to the state’s arsenal for getting doses out to people to protect against COVID-19, we have a summary, below, of what you should know as a new week in the vaccination race gets underway. 

What to know from last week

Massachusetts launched a new website for individuals to search for vaccination locations

The COVID-19 Vaccine Finder lets individuals search for vaccination sites near them by entering their ZIP code, city, or town name. The tool will allow individuals to see available appointments at the locations, find instructions for each site, get directions, or use a MBTA trip planner for traveling to the spot. Individuals can also filter vaccination location results by site type, differentiating mass vaccination locations and those run by local health departments, retail pharmacies, or health care institutions. 

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While the vaccine finder shows all vaccination locations that are open to residents, it only includes appointment details for the state’s mass vaccination locations and some spots operated by local health departments. 

The state added 30 new retail pharmacies as vaccination sites

By the end of last week, the state said more than 50,000 vaccination appointments were offered at pharmacy locations. 

Massachusetts opened up vaccine eligibility to younger companions accompanying people 75 or older to their appointments 

Starting Feb. 11, the state began allowing individuals accompanying a Phase 2 eligible resident over the age of 75 to make their own vaccination appointment for the same location and day. The “companion” option is open to any trusted friend or family member, regardless of age, but is only available at the state’s mass vaccination sites. The individuals must provide an attestation online or through the state’s vaccine appointment 211 hotline that they are “accompanying someone who is age 75+ to their vaccination appointment” and that their appointment is the same day.

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Since the state announced the new policy, scores of ads have popped up on Craigslist with individuals offering seniors free rides to their vaccine appointments so the poster could also get vaccinated. Some individuals are proffering payment — up to $200 — for the opportunity. Officials have warned seniors not to take any of the online offers, and some state lawmakers are calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to rescind the policy out of concerns for safety and equity. 

What to know this week

Almost the entire Mass. congressional delegation is calling on Baker to create a vaccine preregistration system

Ten of the 11 members of the state’s all-Democratic delegation signed a letter to the Republican governor asking that he create a centralized system that would allow state residents to pre-register and receive a notification for COVID-19 appointments. The lawmakers argued such a system would help officials reach populations where there is an unmet demand for the doses and streamline the scheduling of appointments for both providers and patients. 

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The state is cutting back on its vaccine distribution to hospitals

The change reportedly won’t affect patients and hospital staff who already have appointments for their first or second shots. Officials told the Boston Globe the state is directing more doses of the vaccine to high volume locations, such as “mass vaccination sites, retail pharmacy sites, and community health centers until more vaccines are made available.” 

Mass vaccination sites will be opened in Natick and Dartmouth 

Eligible individuals can begin signing up for appointments at two mass vaccination sites slated to open later this month in Natick and Dartmouth, officials announced last week.

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The Natick Mall site, run by LabCorp, will open Monday, Feb. 22 and begin by offering 500 doses a day, eventually increasing in the following weeks to 3,000 doses daily. 

In Dartmouth, the mass vaccination site will open Wednesday, Feb. 24 at Circuit City with Curative operating as the provider. The location will begin by administering 500 doses a day, with the aim of increasing to more than 2,000 doses daily in the following weeks.

  • Eligible residents can begin booking appointments for both sites on Thursday, Feb. 18: mass.gov/covidvaccine.

Boston Medical Center is opening 5 public COVID-19 vaccination sites in Boston

All five sites — in the South End, Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale, and Hyde Park — are currently scheduling appointments. The first appointments will begin Feb. 16 at the Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan, on Feb. 18 at the Menino YMCA in Hyde Park, and Feb. 19 at Russell Auditorium in Dorchester.

General COVID-19 vaccination information to know 

Here’s who is currently eligible for booking appointments:

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Under Phase 1:

Under Phase 2: 

Here’s how to make an appointment: 

Search for and book a vaccination slot through the state’s VaxFinder: https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/

Or visit:  mass.gov/covidvaccine

Those who are 75 and older can connect with the state’s vaccine hotline operator by dialing 2-1-1 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (press 2 for the call center).

According to the state, the mass vaccination locations have the most appointments on Thursdays when they update their schedules, while smaller locations offer fewer slots and tend to update their schedules daily. 

A map and list of COVID-19 vaccination sites in Massachusetts:

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