Pace of New COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments Slows in Mass., Sparking Concerns

Massachusetts residents have gone from fighting to get appointments for the coronavirus vaccine to a surplus of available shots

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From fighting to get shots to a surplus of appointments, a new trend in the Massachusetts vaccine rollout has some health experts concerned.

At UMass Memorial Health Care's vaccination site on Front Street in Worcester, workers went from administering 600 shots a day last week to struggling to fill 500 appointments this week.

"It's very concerning to all of us. We're not filling like we were just days ago. It's been a dramatic change," Candy Szymanski, the clinical supervisor at the site said.

She and her colleagues do not know if the trend can be attributed to vaccine hesitancy, access or just complacency, but they are worried knowing Massachusetts needs to vaccinate more people in order to achieve herd immunity.

"With the Johnson and Johnson pause, I think a number of people are saying 'Hang on a minute,'" Dr. Robert Klugman of UMass Memorial Medical Center said. "But in the meantime, we're all dressed and ready to go."

They are doing everything they can to get the word and shots out. They are posting on social media daily about appointments being available. In Marlborough, they have started offering walk-in availability and they are not above begging.

"The other day my colleague and I were out on a street for 40 minutes trying to find someone to vaccinate, and for the first time ever, we weren't able to use the doses we had," Szymanski said.

Kevin Pettijohn of Marlborough knows what it is like. He has spent the last week trying to convince his son and others to get the vaccine.

"I hope people get off the fence and get the shot. It's the only way for us to get back to some sort of normalcy and for us to feel safe again," he said.

In Marlborough, the walk in clinic is happening until 1 p.m. all week.

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