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COVID-19 Vaccination Info for those 65 and Up

New information: Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that Massachusetts residents age 65 or older or those with two or more specific medical conditions, including asthma, will be eligible to book appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Thursday at about 8 am. A caregiver accompanying someone 75 and up may get a vaccination at one of these locations only: Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Fenway Park in Boston, Eastfield Mall in Springfield, and the Doubletree Hotel in Danvers. You may read about the program here.

The vaccine rollout has been frustrating and will remain so for a while. It’s safe to assume that this will be worked out in the coming weeks and everyone who is eligible will be able to be vaccinated. Over a million people are now eligible to be vaccinated. However, the state is not receiving enough vaccine to keep up with the demand.

Call Center: Those who are 65 and over and unable to navigate the web sign up process may use the call center to help schedule an appointment. The call center also has a call back system, the Governor said, “If no appointments are available within a distance the caller can travel, then callers will be offered the chance to be placed on a call-back list for the mass vaccination sites. Residents will receive a call-back as appointments become available at these sites. Due to high demand and limited supply, callers may experience significant wait times. The Administration will monitor wait times and make necessary adjustments.”
You may call toll free 211 or (877) 211-6277 for assistance. The line will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.

Choose Your Best Strategy

If you see a physician, have ever seen a physician, or even gotten a COVID test at one of the hospitals or health plan groups below you may be able to get the vaccine sooner and more easily than booking through the state’s appointment system. See the section below on vaccination through your provider.

If, on the other hand, your only health care is through a private doctor’s office, it might take longer to get a vaccination that way. If you want to get vaccinated sooner you may wish to use the state’s appointment system. Try the Search help website listed below.

Appointments will be available the week of Feb 7 at pharmacies and other locations in Cambridge. CVS seems to be the first; see this section below.

For now, the State will release new appointments for Fenway, Foxborough, and Danvers on Thursdays. (They did not announce what time on Thursdays.) Note, new appointments sometimes open up during the week when there are cancellations.

Cambridge Information Web Page

While the City of Cambridge has no control over vaccine availability it has put up a web page about vaccinations that is a easier to navigate than the state’s website. It is here.


Search Help Websites

Olivia Adams, of Arlington, MA has created this great website that helps find available appointments. It checks all the sites every five minutes. You still need to create an account on the state’s website to make the appointment and you should do that first. However once you find a slot on this website you can open the state’s appointment page and try and reserve a slot. It’s still a BIG help. Click here.

Editorial note: A mom on maternity leave created this far better site than the one the state has put up. What does that say? Meanwhile: Thank you Olivia Adams!

Alternatively, a group of volunteers created another site, which works in a similar way. See it here.

The State’s Web Page

Information for those 75 and over is here.
Vaccination locations and sign up, click here

Note, the map of locations is at the bottom of that web page.
The sites marked in yellow are local sites. Before booking those check the information in the “serves” field in the pin details. Those yellow sites are only open to residents of select cities and towns. As of 2/3 we are not aware of any that serve Cambridge.

Tips from WBUR Readers

This is a well organized web page of tips here.

Navigating the State’s Web Page

This how-to article from The Boston Globe explains how to navigate the process on the state’s web page.


Use Your Hospital or Health Plan

Atrius / Harvard Vanguard
Their website says, “At this time, Atrius Health has not yet received sufficient vaccine supply from the state, and we are unable to begin scheduling appointments for our patients 75 and older. 
 
We are hopeful we will receive vaccine in mid-February so that we can begin scheduling appointments for this priority group soon. Our practices have more than 40,000 patients who are in the 75 and older group.
 
When we receive vaccine, we will begin general outreach to our patients 75 and older through MyHealth (our patient portal), our public website, social media, email, and other channels to invite them to schedule appointments.” More information here.

Cambridge Health Alliance / Cambridge Hospital
CHA is setting up clinic sites for its patients. If you have had any care through CHA and are in the targeted groups we understand you are eligible to get a vaccine through them. You can schedule an appointment through the MyChart website or on a mobile device. See MyChart and how to do this here. (Scroll down on the page for tips on “how to.” As of this writing there are two vaccine clinics over two consecutive weekends at Malden Family Medicine and evenings during the week at the CHA Assembly Square location. They are planning to establish a larger site at some point in the next two weeks.

Mount Auburn Hospital
Now part of Beth Israel, Lahey says: “Beth Israel Lahey Health will be sending invitations to our patients who are in that [75 and over] age group.” There is more information here.

Partners (MGH, Brigham, etc) Patients
“We will contact eligible patients through Patient Gateway (the online patient portal), or by email, text message, or phone call. All scheduling is being handled centrally at Mass General Brigham. Please do not contact your doctor’s office about scheduling vaccine appointments.”  More information here.

Through your Doctor’s Office

If you plan to get vaccinated at your doctor’s they probably don’t have vaccine yet. The state suggests you wait to call them rather than overwhelm them with calls now.


Pharmacies and other Locations

CVS, Walgreen, and Wegmans will offer vaccinations in and near Cambridge Feb 11, with appointment scheduling available starting Feb. 9.  To sign up for an appointment at CVS, visit CVS.com, use their pharmacy app or call (800) 746-7287.


Transportation

Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is offering free transportation, via one of SCES’ transportation providers, for local older adults to nearby COVID-19 vaccination sites.
SCES is encouraging those who are eligible to get vaccinated. We do not want transportation to be an obstacle for the people we serve. If you are 75 and up from Cambridge or Somerville, and you need a ride to your vaccination site, please give us a call!
We ask that you call well ahead of the appointment, so that we can connect you with a transportation option, and you can plan the most convenient travel time for yourself. Masks will be required during transportation.
For more information about the SCES vaccination transportation program, or to register for a ride, call SCES at 617-628-2601 or email here.
(Rides will be offered to those 65-74 when they become eligible.)


Scams

With the widespread concern about finding and getting a vaccine, some scammers are looking for ways to steal money and gather personal information that can be sold for profit.

There are reports of scammers taking money in exchange for fake COVID-19 vaccine reservations. No legitimate organizations will charge you for making a reservation. According to AARP, “Be wary of websites with pop-up ads for a vaccine appointment.”

In Massachusetts, as soon as the state’s new vaccination website went up, some scam sites appeared as well. Make sure you are on a legitimate site before entering your personal information. Only follow links from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or other reputable sites.

Read a longer article to help identify and avert scams here.


Groups Eligible, Thursday, Feb 18

Those 65 and up and those with two or more comorbidities.


revised 2/11/2021


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