Mass. Teachers Relieved by Vaccine Eligibility, New Preregistration System

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With about 400,000 educators about to become eligible for the vaccine in Massachusetts on Thursday, some have scored appointments through CVS, which has already allowed teachers to sign up.

"Oh my Gosh, I thought I won the lottery," said Cathy Dowd, a teacher at Needham High School. "I teach a class of seniors, and in that class of 24, there's been six cases."

Dowd, who teachers AP Government and US history, says in-person learning is critical, but needs to be safe.

"There were two students that came in who were contagious and a third student contracted the virus," said Dowd. "And the public health nurses believe it happened in my classroom."

To make it easier to book a vaccine appointment, the state of Massachusetts announced Wednesday that it is now dumping its much maligned website. Instead, a new preregistration system will soon allow people to sign up online, and then they'll be notified when it's their turn.

"Instead of having to waste time in front of your computer screen, you can go about your life and you daily business," said Amy Heymans, founder of MAD*POW, a consultancy company that specializes in digital design.

Heymans says it takes time to create a flawless or refined user experience.

"Companies like Ticketmaster had years and years and years to dial in a service where a great number of people could do the very same thing online at the very same moment," said Heymans.

Thursday will be the last day people will have to compete for slots online.

"I am sure that educators are going to get up around 3 o'clock in the morning, and they're going to be checking for the status of whether or not vaccines have been loaded yet," said Beth Kontos, president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts.

The new registration system will go live Friday morning.

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