Confusion Hampers Mass. Vaccination Efforts in First Week of Phase 2

Seniors turned out in droves across the state on Saturday, many of them with appointments that still didn’t guarantee a vaccination

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Widespread confusion involving both Massachusetts' online coronavirus vaccination portal and its new hotline continues to hamper efforts to rapidly inoculate eligible seniors, less than a week after state guidelines allowed the vulnerable population to receive a vaccination. 

Seniors turned out in droves across the state on Saturday, many of them with appointments that still didn’t guarantee a vaccination. In Worcester, some were turned away because they didn’t live in the city despite having been directed to that location after making an appointment online. 

Similar issues plagued a vaccination clinic in Framingham, where some were told that their appointment had been canceled. Public health officials there blamed the issue on a glitch with the state’s vaccination website. 

At a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Framingham, technical communication lapses caused confusion among seniors trying to get their shot.

“We didn’t have them listed any longer because our system had canceled their appointment,” said Alexandra DePalo, the city’s interim public health director. “Unfortunately, on their side, we had asked the registration platform to send out that meeting cancellation, or that appointment cancellation, and unfortunately quite a few people who came here said they didn’t receive that message.”

DePalo noted that officials made an effort to vaccinate everyone who showed up. 

Others said the new 211 hotline, which Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled on Friday, is just as confusing as the online route. 

“There is a moment where you’re not even sure you’ve called the right number,” said Rekha Murthy, of Arlington. 

Massachusetts launched a new hotline Friday aimed at helping those 75 and older who are trying to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment and are having trouble navigating the state's vaccine website.

She and her mother spent days on the phone and online trying to find her 81-year-old father an appointment. She eventually found him one near his home in Springfield, but now she has to find him a second dose. 

“The staff said they don’t really know how to book that second appointment. So, there was just a lot of confusion on that front,” she said. “I was hopeful that maybe the second step of this process would be easier, but it’s actually been at least as frustrating.” 

Seniors who are 75 or older became eligible to receive the vaccine on Feb. 1. as part of the first group of Phase 2. 

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