Starting Monday, anyone over the age of sixteen will be able to make an appointment to get the coronavirus vaccine in Massachusetts, one of the last states to make shots available to the general adult population.
The federal government ordered states to open coronavirus vaccine appointments to all U.S. adults by April 19 earlier this month. Other states moved up the timeline, but Massachusetts was one of a handful that stuck with the latest date for universal eligibility in the country.
"This is a very important moment where we're opening and giving access to more people," said Dr. Sabrina Assoumou, who specializes in infectious diseases at Boston Medical Center. "So this means to me that we're getting closer to having more people protected so that we can get closer to that new normal that we're all waiting for."
"There's a light at the end of the tunnel, we just need to hang on and get vaccinated," said Assoumou.
Some public health experts have called on Gov. Charlie Baker to accelerate the vaccination process. Currently, Massachusetts residents 55 and older and those who suffer from one or more certain medical conditions that put them at greater risk for COVID-19 are eligible to get the vaccine.
Massachusetts updated its eligibility qualifications about two weeks ago to include Type 1 diabetes as one of several priority medical conditions under guidelines set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to Thursday's vaccine report, 1,916,830 Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated against the virus.
More than 4.8 million total doses have now been administered in the state, including 2,917,816 first-dose shots of either Pfizer of Moderna. Over 200,000 Bay State residents have now received Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine.
Gov. Charlie Baker has said he expects "minimal disruption" to vaccine distribution in Massachusetts despite Tuesday's decision to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine while the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration further investigate blood clots in six women that occurred in the days after receiving the J&J vaccine.
Baker said the Johnson & Johnson doses make up only a small portion of the state's vaccine supply, so he doesn't expect the pause to have a major impact in the Bay State.
The full timeline is available at mass.gov/COVIDVaccinePhases.
How to Sign Up
All residents can preregister to book an appointment at a mass vaccination site at mass.gov/COVIDVaccine.
The state's online vaccine sign-up tool went live last month, changing the sign-up process for appointments at the large-scale sites. Preregistered residents will be added to a waiting list where they'll receive weekly status updates and be notified when an appointment becomes available.
Preregistration only takes a couple of minutes at vaccinesignup.mass.gov to get on a waiting list for an appointment at one of the large-scale sites.
Once an appointment opens up, residents will be notified via email, phone or text, based on their preference. The notification will include a link with a special code needed to schedule the appointment, which expires after one day.
The appointment must be accepted within 24 hours, otherwise the resident will be sent back into the queue and must wait for another appointment. Depending on supply, it could take weeks for people to be notified that an appointment is available at a mass vaccination site.
Residents can opt out of their preregistration at any time if they get an appointment elsewhere.