Coronavirus

Massachusetts officials say newly released mass vaccination site appointments are ‘nearly all filled’

"Please try again next week."

Sondra Vandermark of Framingham gets her COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday at the mass vaccination site at the Natick Mall. Matt Stone / The Boston Herald via AP, Pool

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker had said that officials expected the tens of thousands of appointments being released Thursday for the state’s mass vaccination sites next week would “go fast.”

And apparently they did.

“Due to a severely limited vaccine supply and a large population of individuals eligible to get a vaccine, this week’s ~50,000 appointments at mass vaccination sites across the Commonwealth are nearly all filled,” state officials said in a tweet shortly before 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

“If you have not been able to schedule an appointment yet, please try again next week – it may take several attempts over the course of a few weeks to get an open slot,” they added.

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The state’s network of retail pharmacies providing vaccines are also expected to make another 20,000 appointments available for next week.

Officials have said that it may take up to a month for all currently eligible individuals to secure an appointment, after the state expanded its COVID-19 vaccine rollout last week to residents as young as 65 and those with certain medical conditions, a population totaling nearly 1 million additional people. Baker has stressed that the process, constrained by the limited number of vaccine doses received each week by the state, will require “patience.”

Indeed, many individuals who logged onto the state’s COVID-19 vaccine appointment website Thursday morning were met with wait times of hours — if not days, in some cases — to find an open time slot at one of the seven mass vaccination sites.

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After the state’s website crashed last week amid the rush of traffic, Baker said this Wednesday that officials had bolstered the online portal’s sever capacity and created a digital waiting room. However, many residents reported that the displayed wait times varied wildly, sometimes increasing after they thought they had secured their place.

“I guess a few thousand others cut in line, digitally speaking,” one resident told Boston.com in an email, after seeing their wait time increase from 13 minutes to more than three days.

The release of the new appointments came hours before Baker and other officials were slated to testify at a legislative COVID-19 response oversight hearing Thursday morning.

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State Sen. Jo Comerford, a co-chair of the committee, said Thursday that the online waiting room’s timer was “like some sort of wild accordion, going down to 13 minutes then back up to 232 minutes then down to 30 minutes.

“MA *must* do better for our people,” Comerford tweeted.

Baker is expected to testify first at the 11 a.m. hearing Thuesday.

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