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Seniors line up at vaccination sites across Massachusetts

A sign outside of the Reggie Lewis Center announced that COVID-19 vaccination distribution has been canceled for today because of the pending snowstorm. Appointments scheduled for today will automatically be rescheduled to February 8th.
A sign outside of the Reggie Lewis Center announced that COVID-19 vaccination distribution has been canceled for today because of the pending snowstorm. Appointments scheduled for today will automatically be rescheduled to February 8th.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

After a bumpy start to Phase 2 of Massachusetts’ vaccination plan, Mass. residents age 75 and older who managed to schedule appointments are set to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations Monday.

But a major snowstorm in the forecast is complicating an already difficult roll out as at least two mass vaccination sites have moved up appointments and at least one site is closing early.

Follow updates from Globe reporters around the state:

Video: Here’s what it looked like at Gillette and Fenway Monday as seniors arrived to be vaccinated — 3:09 p.m.

By Shelby Lum, Globe staff

People 75 and older receive their vaccines
People 75 and older were vaccinated at both Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park on Monday. (Shelby Lum/Globe Staff)

Call center in hard-hit Revere seeks to assist seniors with vaccination appointments — 1:49 p.m.

By Deanna Pan, Globe staff

“Hey Tom, how are ya?” asked Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo, detouring from the print-out script in front of him. His eyes crinkled as he smiled beneath his mask. The mayor asked Tom if he planned on getting the COVID-19 vaccine and if he had tried making his own appointment. Arrigo was silent as he listened to the 75-year-old man on the other end of the line.

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“Exactly,” Arrigo finally said. “So this is exactly why we’re reaching out to folks because we know that people may have had some challenges getting an appointment or getting to the appointment.”

The multipurpose room at the Rossetti-Cowan Senior Center, where Arrigo was dialing numbers from a Google spreadsheet, was bursting with activity Monday morning. In two rows of desks divided by plexiglass, callers speaking a medley of languages reassured worried seniors that their turn for the vaccine would come, even if they didn’t know when or where.

Arrigo’s conversation with Tom soon pivoted to the impending snowstorm and real estate taxes. Ten minutes later, Arrigo was still on the phone with Tom — his first call of the day from the city’s COVID-19 vaccination hotline — ticking off each of the promises his office would follow-up on with his fingers.

“People are anxious, and seniors are going to continue to be anxious and that’s why being proactive and doing things like this is so important,” Arrigo told the Globe later. “We’re able to maybe get ahead of some of that and make it known that we’re here for them.”

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The pandemic has throttled Revere, a hard-scrabble city of working-class people and immigrants. Here, coronavirus infection rates rival those of the state’s worst-impacted cities, and the unemployment rate has surged since the outbreak began.

The state Department of Public Health has promised Revere 420 doses this week for its own vaccination clinic, but Arrigo doesn’t know when those shots will arrive. He’s also hopeful Revere, given its residents’ many challenges, eventually will get more.

“My residents can’t just go to Foxborough. They can’t go to Fenway. It’s not as easy as getting in the car and being able to do that,” he said.

Officials at North End site frustrated with fewer vaccine doses than expected — 12:37 p.m.

By David Abel, Globe staff

At North End Waterfront Health, officials were frustrated that they had not received the additional doses they were expecting to use to begin vaccinating elderly residents.

The state Department of Public Health promised to send them 500 doses, said Jim Luisi, CEO of New Health, which runs the community health center. Instead, they used 60 doses of the remaining Moderna vaccine that they still had for vaccinating first responders.

“It has been frustrating,” Luisi said.

The elderly patients began streaming into the health center at 11 a.m. Everyone received a new mask and was required to use hand sanitizer.

Among the first recipients of the vaccine was Robert Skole, 92, a retired journalist who lives in the North End.

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“It feels liberating,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for this a long time.”

Anna Gaeta, 80, barely flinched when she received her vaccine.

“A piece of cake,” said Gaeta, who came with her husband, Anthony, after being jabbed in the shoulder with a needle. “I feel great.”

Both said the vaccine wouldn’t change their lives much, and that they planned to lay low for a while. Neither have been in a restaurant since last march, and they said they didn’t know when they would feel comfortable returning to one.

When a friend emerged from getting her shot, Anthony Gaeta joked she could go dancing now.

“Only if you come with me,” said the friend, Barbara Maldero, 93, a lifelong resident of the North End.

She said she hoped it would be less stressful going to church after receiving her next dose.

“Hopefully this will help me and help many other people,” she said.

Seniors line up inside Fenway for vaccine as many rush to beat the storm — 12:23 p.m.

By Anissa Gardizy, Globe correspondent

Around noon Monday, there was a socially distanced line of about 50 people inside Fenway Park that wrapped around a concourse and up to the vaccination area. This line was longer than originally anticipated to accommodate the many individuals arriving early for their appointment to beat the snowstorm.

Rodrigo Martinez, the chief experience and marketing officer for CIC Health, said there was additional staff at Fenway Park on Monday, as well as additional wheelchairs.

The Fenway crew set up folding chairs along the line inside, including on some inclines, so those waiting could take a seat. Some brought beach chairs and folding chairs with them.

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Once individuals reached the vaccination area, they were ushered to one of ten tables where they could receive the shot. Workers regularly replenished the doses at each table, which were prepared by nurses behind a concession stand bar.

Next to the vaccination area was an observation station, where those who had just been vaccinated sat for 15 or 30 minutes to ensure they didn’t experience any adverse effects to the shot.

At this time, many pulled out their smartphones to schedule an appointment for their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but workers also roamed the area with a laptop cart to assist with scheduling.

R.I. state-operated vaccination sites closed Monday due to storm — 11:46 a.m.

By The Associated Press

A winter storm that could drop more than a foot of snow on some areas of Rhode Island is forcing changes to the state’s coronavirus testing and vaccination efforts.

All state-operated COVID-19 testing sites will be closed on Monday, the state Department of Health said.

Also, regional vaccination clinics in Bristol, Providence and East Greenwich will not open as scheduled.

People who had appointments for Monday at any one of these three locations will be contacted directly about rescheduling. Most of the appointments were for first responders and health care providers, with some limited vaccinations for people 75 years of age and older at Bristol and East Greenwich.

Regional vaccination clinics in Smithfield and Narragansett were not scheduled to operate on Monday.

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Forecasters say storm is expected to pick up at major vaccination sites later Monday afternoon — 11:29 a.m.

By John Ellement, Globe staff

As eligible residents flocked to Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park Monday morning to get their COVID-19 vaccines ahead of major snowfall in Massachusetts, forecasters said the worst of the storm in Foxborough and Boston was still a few hours away.

Kristie Smith, a weather service meteorologist, said snowfall should be noticeable in Foxborough starting around noon, and that snowfall will steadily increase throughout the day. By 4 p.m., Foxborough and Boston will be in the throes of the heaviest snowfall.

”The snow is going to ramp up pretty quickly in terms of intensity,” Smith said. “By 4 p.m., Boston will be in the brunt of things. It will be 2 p.m. or a little bit later in Foxborough.”

Snow will be falling at the rate of 1 or 2 inches per hour by the evening commute, she said.

‘We want to see our children and grandchildren’: Seniors express relief at Fenway vaccination site — 11:06 a.m.

By Anissa Gardizy, Globe correspondent

Frank and Lorraine O’Brien, 76 and 75, picked up their friend Susan Johansen, 82, Monday morning before heading to Fenway.

They parked in a nearby lot, but were surprised that they had to pay for parking. They were told it was $12 per hour, and they didn’t know how long their appointments would take.

Frank had to run to and from the car twice, first to grab his license plate information and again to put the paid ticket on his windshield.

“We were hoping that they would have reduced rates because we are here for a vaccine and not for pleasure,” Lorraine said while walking along Jersey Street.

All three carried printed out receipts of their appointment confirmation.

Lorraine said she was nervous that the staff at Fenway would not allow her husband Frank to get vaccinated on Monday. She was up until 2 a.m. Thursday morning on her computer, scheduling them both an appointment, but her husband’s slot ended up being on Tuesday.

As a worker came around to check their confirmation in the line outside, they found out Frank would be able to get the vaccine on Monday.

“I had been praying to Saint Anthony,” Lorraine said. “We want to see our children and grandchildren.”

Two hours after they parked their car, the trio trekked back down Jersey Street just as it began to snow, beaming about their vaccination experience. Although the estimated time for a vaccination at Fenway Park is under an hour, CIC Health allowed everyone to arrive before 1 p.m. on Monday to avoid traveling in the snow, increasing the wait time.

“Everything inside ran so smoothly, the people were so kind,” Lorraine said. “They helped us schedule our next appointment and get all squared away.”

Johansen, 82, said she booked her next appointment on her iPhone while waiting in the observation area. She was also fielding calls from several friends who wanted to hear how the vaccination went.

“It really was done well,” she said.

O’Brien said they would all be back at Fenway Park on Feb. 22 for their second dose, “hopefully with no snow storm.”

Workers get an early start on COVID-19 vaccinations in Danvers — 10:30 a.m.

By Kay Lazar, Globe staff

Judy Drouin, 76, of Danvers showed off her bandage after she was vaccinated Monday.
Judy Drouin, 76, of Danvers showed off her bandage after she was vaccinated Monday.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

DANVERS — At a Walgreens location in Danvers, workers started shots at 8:15 a.m. Monday morning and had 60 appointments scheduled as calls flooded in from seniors worried about the storm.

Walgreens store manager Maggie Eveleth eased anxieties — anyone with a scheduled appointment Monday was told to come in and the store would squeeze them in.

Among those with first appointments Monday at the Walgreens in Danvers was Bob Blanchard of Manchester by the Sea. The double-masked 76-year-old was not only determined to to get a shot, he also was adamant about one-upping his daughter on the social media front. His daughter, who qualified for a vaccine a bit earlier posted a selfie on Facebook after she got a shot.

“Is that the best you can do?’ he teased her at the time.

“I can do better than that,” he said yesterday as he whipped out his cellphone Monday in a Walgreens aisle moments after receiving his first vaccine and proudly showed off the picture he snapped of himself flashing a victory sign as the pharmacist was jabbing the needle in his arm.

Judy Drouin, 76, of Danvers lives just a half mile from the Walgreens that started vaccinating people over 75 Monday morning. She considered herself lucky to have gotten an appointment the first day — but was up at dawn worried they’d close before her 6:30 p.m. appointment because of the storm.

“I panicked,” she said. “I couldn’t get through on the phone, so I just got dressed and drove down.”

The store manager assured her they would squeeze her in, no matter what, if she was willing to wait. By 9:30 a.m. they found an opening and whisked her in.

“I am thrilled they are so accommodating,” she said, her joy clearly beaming behind her mask.

It took her son more than four hours online the week earlier to score her an appointment. And she was carrying four pages of required paperwork with her to the store.

“All the paperwork is crazy,” Drouin said. “But I don’t care, I don’t think anyone does. We just want to get the shot.”

Minutes later she was in the tiny vaccination room with pharmacist Joe Borge. She made sure to wear a short sleeved shirt and chose a color — bright coral — to reflect the bright promise of the moment.

“I am so looking forward to just getting out again,” she said. “Just to see my friends. We’ll all still be masking -- this isn’t going away anytime soon. But just to dine outside and see people. I can’t wait.”

Gillette vaccination site opens early ahead of storm — 10:17 a.m.

By Hanna Krueger, Globe staff

FOXBOROUGH — Vaccinations began earlier than planned at Gillette Monday morning as a steady stream of seniors pulled into Patriot Place before 8 a.m. eager to get their first dose of the Moderna vaccine and avoid the impending snowstorm set to start midday.

A giant screen outside of the stadium broadcasted which appointments were now being accepted. However, some people arrived an hour or several hours ahead of their appointment and were still allowed inside, where a streamlined check-in process had people pulling up their sleeves within a half-hour of entering the facility.

For a select few, the process of securing an appointment was remarkably easy. Harold Hill, 77, poured his cup of coffee this morning and snagged an open slot for a couple of hours later. The former soccer player bounced to his vaccination site, pulled up his sleeve, and gave a little flex as a nurse primed a syringe filled with Moderna’s mRNA cocktail.

But for most, the process called for sleepless nights next to the computer. Several reported having success only after midnight and likened the feeling of getting confirmation of an appointment to that of “winning the lottery.”

Lorraine Peters and her son Jerome Sampson, both from Boston, each separately checked the appointment portal for open slots for several days before finally securing one in “the wee hours” of last week. They both hardly slept last night in anticipation for the morning appointment. Peters forgot her phone on the way out of the door.

“And she never forgets her phone,” said Sampson. But much of that anxiety spread into joy once Peters received her vaccination card. As she sat in the observation zone in the Putnam Club, she wondered if she could still have her nightly glass of sherry tonight.

“This wasn’t easy by any means, but I wasn’t going to give up. I have got a lot of living left to do and I want to get on with it,” the 80-year-old said.

Cars line up along Jersey and Lansdowne Streets for Fenway vaccination site — 9:39 a.m.

By Anissa Gardizy, Globe correspondent

Many seniors who arrived at Fenway on Monday were accompanied by what appeared to be family members.

At some points in the morning, Jersey Street looked like a carpool cab stand, with individuals being dropped off at Gate A on Jersey Street. It was a similar scene on Lansdowne Street, since individuals exited out of Gate E.

Those who were not dropped off at the entrance needed to find parking in a lot or garage nearby.

Many people arrived with their own wheelchair, cane, or walker, but the Fenway staff had wheelchairs available for those that needed assistance navigating the concourse.

The Fenway staff let individuals enter the stadium after showing their appointment confirmation, so lines did not form outside.

‘Faster than I expected’: Few lines so far at Fenway as Phase 2 gets underway — 9:04 a.m.

By Anissa Gardizy, Globe correspondent

Residents 75 and over arrived at Fenway Park for their coronavirus COVID-19 vaccination.
Residents 75 and over arrived at Fenway Park for their coronavirus COVID-19 vaccination. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Renee Marsh, 64, was waiting outside Gate E around 8:30 a.m. on Monday, waiting for her mother, Alfrieda, to finish the 15-minute observation period after her shot. She drove her mother to the site from Roslindale, and was surprised her mother didn’t have to wait outside.

“I thought there would be a line,” she said.

Her mother’s appointment was originally scheduled for 4:40 p.m., but they were told they could arrive early to avoid the expected snow.

As she exited the building, Alfrieda, 85, said “that was faster than I expected.” She said a staff member inside helped her schedule an appointment for her second dose on a laptop before she left.

Renee added that her mother didn’t care her appointment was at Fenway Park — she just wanted to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. She suspects other seniors feel the same way.

“I know they say you can take pictures in the stadium, but people don’t care,” she said. “They want to be in and out.”

Seniors arrive early for vaccination appointments at Fenway Park — 8:44 a.m.

By Anissa Gardizy, Globe correspondent

Jamaica Plain residents Jonathan and Anita Brush, both 75, arrived at Fenway Park around 7:15 a.m. on Monday morning, expecting to see a long line of people waiting to get vaccinated.

CIC Health announced last night that it would open the mass vaccination site an hour early at 8 a.m. so those with appointments could arrive before the expected snow.

Instead, Jonathan and Anita were the first people to show up, and less than five people entered the ballpark when it opened for vaccinations around 7:40 a.m.

Jonathan Brush said he and his wife stayed up past midnight last week to schedule vaccination appointments when the system opened on Wednesday for those 75 and older. The Jamaica Plain residents said they had two computer screens open and found two appointments at Fenway Park.

“For some families that is not possible, or much harder” Anita Brush said. “We have good Internet.”

Debbie Romanow, 67, dropped her mother off at Gate A on a Jersey Street around 7:30 a.m. She scheduled her mother an appointment online last week.

Ruth Band, 86, said she was thankful that her daughter found her an appointment and drove her to the ballpark Monday morning. Her daughter planned to drop her off at the entrance gate and then drive to the exit to pick her up.

“Some of my friends don’t have computers or anyone to help them,” she said from the back seat of the car. “I feel bad for those people.”

The Fenway Park security staff is letting anyone with an appointment walk inside, regardless of their scheduled appointment time.

Reggie Lewis Center vaccination site will not open due to incoming storm — 7:23 a.m.

By Christina Prignano, Globe staff

The Boston Public Health Commission announced on Monday that the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, which was set to open Monday as a mass vaccination site, would not open due to the incoming snowstorm.

“Appointments scheduled for 2/1 will automatically be rescheduled for 2/8,” the city agency announced in a tweet Monday. The commission also announced a mobile testing site in Jamaica Plain would be closed.

Massachusetts is expected to receive more than a foot of snow Monday into Tuesday as a nor’easter approaches the area. Other mass vaccination sites have announced changes to their schedule due to the storm as well.

Maps: Here’s how much snow your area could see during the storm — 7:23 a.m.

By Shannon Larson and Lauren Booker, Globe staff

Snow is expected to pile up across Massachusetts from Monday to Tuesday during what forecasters are expecting to be a “major winter storm.”

Unlike the few inches that fell on Thursday and Friday, some areas of the state could see over a foot of snow, according to the National Weather Service’s forecasts for the first days of February.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the majority of the state.

By Shannon Larson, Globe staff

Starting today, Massachusetts residents aged 75 and older can begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines, thereby kicking off Phase 2 of the state’s vaccination plan.

But Monday’s snow will affect vaccination plans at several sites and Baker has already warned people to stay off the roads as the weather worsens. It’s a complicating factor in what already promised to be a complex day one of the rollout.