All Massachusetts residents 16 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with the start of the final phase of the state’s vaccination plan.
While those 16 and older can now book vaccination appointments, the vaccine developed by Pfizer is the only vaccine that has been authorized for those as young as 16, with the state’s other vaccine, Moderna, is authorized for those 18 or older.
April 19 is the deadline President Biden had set earlier in April for states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine as the country continues its high-stakes campaign to vaccinate Americans as cases of COVID-19 are increasing and variants of the virus are spreading.
The priority groups became eligible in Massachusetts one by one. Here’s a look at the break down of each phase:
The groups who are eligible under Phase 1 are:
1. Clinical and non-clinical health care workers doing direct and COVID-facing care
2. Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities
3. First responders
4. Congregate care settings
5. Home-based health care workers
6. Health care workers doing non-COVID-facing care
The priority groups for Phase 2 are:
1. People aged 75 and older (became eligible Feb. 1). One companion who accompanies those 75 and older to their appointments at mass vaccination sites are also able to receive the shot
2. People aged 65 and older, people with two or more comorbidities, and residents and staff of low-income and affordable senior housing (eligible as of Feb. 18). Here are the health conditions that qualify, according to the state:
- An immunocompromised state
- Moderate-to-severe asthma
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis
- Dementia or other neurological conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- HIV infection
- Weakened immune system from solid organ transplant
- Liver disease
- Overweight and obesity (The state is directing residents to the CDC’s website to calculate their body mass index)
- Sickle cell disease
- Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
- Substance use disorders
3. K-12 educators, school staff, and child-care workers (became eligible March 11)
4. Workers and residents 60 and older (became eligible March 22). Eligible workers are those who work in the following sectors. This list is updated twice per week in response to inquiries submitted by residents, according to the state.
- Transit, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, restaurant and cafe workers
- Food, beverages, consumer goods, retail, and food service
- Sanitation, public works, and public health
- Food pantry workers and volunteers
- Transit and transportation, including Uber and Lyft, rideshare services, and pharmacy delivery drivers; workers in the passenger ground transportation industry, such as food delivery and paratransit for people with disabilities; MassPort workers other than police
- Convenience store workers
- Water and wastewater utility staff
- Court system workers, such as judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, clerks, who are not listed under first responders
- Medical supply chain workers
- Funeral directors and funeral workers
- Shipping port and terminal workers
5. Residents 55 and older and people with one qualifying medical condition (eligible April 5)
The groups included in Phase 3 are:
All residents 16 and older
I’m eligible for a vaccine. How do I make an appointment?
Residents can visit mass.gov/covidvaccinemap to see a map of vaccination sites.
Massachusetts has also launched a preregistration system, which operates as a virtual line that alerts vaccine-eligible residents when they can book an appointment.
Using the site mass.gov/COVIDvaccine, residents can complete an online form to request an appointment at a mass vaccination site, according to the state. Other vaccination sites are expected to be added, the state has said.
The form asks for contact information and details about the applicant’s eligibility for the vaccine, and they can choose whether they want to be texted, e-mailed, or called for appointment updates. For those who choose text and e-mail, they will be sent a link to choose an appointment at a mass vaccination site. Those who prefer a phone call will receive information about how to schedule the appointment, according to the state’s website. After preregistering, applicants will get weekly updates on their status. The status update will allow residents to confirm they still want to be on the list or opt out of the process.
When an appointment becomes available, the applicant will be notified and have 24 hours to accept. The appointments will be offered based on an applicant’s eligibility and the availability of appointments at a nearby mass vaccination site. Residents will only be matched with the site that’s closest to them. They’ll be able to choose from a number of appointment times.
Anyone who does not accept the appointment within 24 hours will be moved back in line to wait for another appointment.
Where can I get vaccinated?
There are currently seven mass vaccination sites administering vaccines in the state: Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Fenway Park in Boston, the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury, the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, the Natick Mall in Natick, the former Circuit City in Dartmouth, and the DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers.
In addition to the mass vaccination sites, there are more than 170 locations offering COVID-19 shots at pharmacies, community health centers, markets, and other sites.
Check the state’s map to find a vaccination location near you.
Amanda Kaufman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.