BOSTON (WPRI) — Massachusetts residents who accompany someone 75 or older to get their COVID-19 shot at a mass vaccination site will now be able to schedule and receive their own shot that same day, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday.
Beginning Thursday, caregivers will be able to book their own appointment online for the same date and location as the person they are accompanying, Baker said.
Residents 75 and older have been eligible to receive the vaccine for the past 10 days, but Baker said some have been reluctant to go and get vaccinated on their own.
“We’ve learned that some people might be hesitant to go to a mass vaccination site without a relative or a caregiver,” he said.
Only one caregiver is permitted to join the eligible resident.
Baker said the mass vaccination sites will make an effort to vaccinate both the caregiver and the elderly resident together to minimize wait time, even if their appointment times differ.
“Any caregiver is eligible to receive the vaccine at the same site as their 75-year-old partner. This includes a family member or a friend who is supporting someone who is 75 years and older,” Baker explained.
Eligible individuals can go to mass.gov/covidvaccine and schedule two appointments on the same day, either at the same time or adjacent. Anyone who has difficulty or no internet access is told to call 211.
“If you can’t schedule two appointments at the same time or back to back it’s OK,” Baker added. “The mass vaccination sites will make every effort to take both individuals at the same time.”
The governor also clarified that a caregiver can receive their first dose, even if the person in their care is getting their second shot.
“We hope this change will encourage more 75 and older residents to get their vaccines at mass vaccination sites, which have the most availability and are best suited to provide safe access for our older residents,” Baker said.
Baker also announced two new mass vaccination sites will be opening in Dartmouth and Natick.
“As the vaccine process continues to grow, we are constantly looking for ways to improve it,” he said. “We started to see some progress as nearly one million residents have now received vaccines.”
The Dartmouth site at a former Circuit City will open on Feb. 24 and be run by Curative. That site will begin administering 500 doses daily, which is expected to increase to 2,000 per day over the course of several weeks, according to Baker.
Eligible residents can start booking appointments on Feb. 18 at mass.gov/covidvaccine.
“We are adding more appointments and capacity each week, and we are committed to moving as quickly as we possibly can along our distribution timeline” Baker said. “We will be ready to do more when more vaccine is available.”
The second site will open at the Natick Mall on Monday, Feb. 22, beginning with 500 doses per day and ramping up to 3,000 daily.
Mass. Department of Health reported 1,920 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, and an additional 82 people had died after contracting the virus.
The data shows 1,358 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 309 people in the intensive care unit and 183 on ventilators.
Mass. Health Secretary Marylou Sudders asked people to not come early for their appointments, and to wait in their cars until 15 minutes before they’re scheduled to get vaccinated.
“We strive to offer a no line experience, trying to encourage people to not come early for their appointments, but it is possible there might just be a wait,” she said.
Baker also said the state is also planning to add 30 new retail pharmacy vaccination sites.