People who accompany those 75 and older to vaccination appointments at Massachusetts’ mass vaccination sites will be able to get the shots themselves, the state announced Wednesday.
Starting Thursday, caregivers will be able to schedule their own appointments online for the same day and location as the person they’re accompanying who is 75 and older, Governor Charlie Baker said. The companions apply to younger partners, adult children, family members, neighbors, and caregivers. Only one companion is permitted to schedule an appointment with each 75-and-older resident, according to the state.
The state said 53,000 appointments will be added to mass vaccination locations by mid-morning on Thursday. Mass vaccination locations include the vaccination site at Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, the DoubleTree in Danvers, and the Eastfield Mall in Springfield.
Companions will be able to book two separate appointments for someone 75 and older and for themselves, either at the same time or similar times. The sites will try to take both people together to minimize wait time even if the appointments aren’t at the exact same time.
Baker added that the addition of a caregiver appointment does not apply for appointments that have already been booked. If a caregiver accompanies someone 75 and older for their second dose, they will be eligible to receive their first, Baker said.
A “single, trusted companion” will be able to accompany someone 75 and older and get vaccinated, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said.
Sudders also warned against scams, encouraging those 75 and older not to “accept calls offering assistance from someone you do not know or trust to take you to an appointment.”
The change will hopefully “encourage more 75 and older residents to get vaccines at mass vaccination sites, which have most availability and are best suited for safe access to older residents,” Baker said.
Baker said the goal of the eligibility change is to get more of those 75 and older vaccinated, because the state has found that seniors don’t want to “put the burden” on a family member or friend to take them to get a vaccine. One way to make it less of a burden, Baker said, is to open the appointments up to a companion.
Both appointments can be scheduled by using the state’s website, mass.gov/covidvaccine or by calling 211. For companions booking the appointment online, they should select the option: “I am accompanying someone who is age 75+ to their vaccination appointment and my appointment is the same day,” Baker’s office said in a statement.
Brittany Bowker contributed to this report.