Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker received his first coronavirus vaccination shot Tuesday afternoon, before giving an update on his administration's pandemic response in which he said the state is approaching a return to normal life.
Baker got the shot -- the Pfizer vaccine -- at the Hynes Convention Center mass vaccination site in Boston. Asked later if he was feeling any side effects, he said, "Feels fine so far, although, I gotta tell you, it's a real shot!"
While waiting in an observation area where people go in case they experience side effects, he told an attendant that he was scheduled to get a second shot in three weeks. The governor then spoke to reporters for his regular COVID update news conference.
"You may experience some side effects from the vaccine, but as the nurse downstairs told me, that's just a sign that the vaccine is taking, and you certainly won't get COVID from the shot," he said.
Baker, 64, preregistered on the state's vaccination site and had said that he would get the shot when his turn came. On Tuesday, he emphasized that his vaccination shows that the system works the way it was designed to -- he got a notice that he was able to sign up about two weeks after he preregistered.
And he said the number of vaccine doses being shipped to Massachusetts is increasing as well, one of the many signs that normal life may be able to return to the way things were before the pandemic soon.
"Over two and a half million people have received at least a first dose here in Massachusetts and there are clear signs we are getting a little closer to normal. Many businesses are starting to reopen, vaccines are letting family see their friends and family that they haven’t been able to see in months, and, this week, many elementary schools across the commonwealth that were remote only returned to the classroom," Baker said.
Massachusetts on Monday expanded vaccination eligibility residents ages 55 and older and people with qualifying medical conditions.
The group of more than one million residents can get vaccinated, including even more people than initially planned after the state updated its vaccine eligibility on Friday. Massachusetts adopted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated list of medical conditions that are linked to an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, which was released last week.
The full timeline is available here.
Massachusetts has over 300 vaccination locations, including 269 pharmacy locations. Residents 60 and older and certain workers, including transit, grocery, utility, food services, sanitation, public works, public health workers and more were already eligible for the vaccine.
Everyone 16 years of age and older becomes eligible to schedule an appointment on April 19.
A one-time, increased shipment of 100,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines is expected to arrive in the state this week. Depending on supply from the federal government, it could take weeks for people to be notified that an appointment is available at a mass vaccination site, according to the Baker administration.
Individuals can learn more about the Commonwealth’s vaccination sites and pre-registration by visiting vaxfinder.mass.gov.
Massachusetts adopted recent additions to the CDC's list of conditions that cause individuals to be at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Individuals with one of the following conditions are eligible Monday, April 5:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
- Dementia or other neurological conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)
- HIV infection
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
- Liver disease
- Overweight and obesity
- Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Smoking, current or former
- Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
- Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
- Substance use disorders
The administration is building a feature for individuals have already pre-registered to edit their submission to reflect the new medical conditions. That will be made available "soon," according to the Baker Administration.
The state's new 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.
Residents can opt out of their preregistration at any time if they get an appointment elsewhere.