Around 1 million people became newly eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday after the state opened eligibility to those who are 55 and older, and those with one qualifying health condition. In addition, the state on Friday added several new health conditions to its list of comorbidities, including HIV, type 1 diabetes, being overweight, and having a substance use disorder.
Several months after vaccines were first rolled out for health care workers and those in congregate care settings, some parts of the signup process have changed.
If you’re newly eligible, here’s a refresher on how to schedule a vaccine appointment.
Option 1: Preregister at a state-run mass vaccination site
To avoid the weekly scramble for open slots at the state’s mass vaccination sites in Boston, Danvers, Springfield, Foxborough and elsewhere, the state has implemented a preregistration system to allow any Mass. adult to sign up for the vaccine, regardless of eligibility status. Once you become eligible and it’s your turn on the list, you’ll receive an invitation to sign up for an appointment at the site nearest to you. If you’ve registered for an appointment elsewhere in the meantime, you’ll be able to forfeit your slot in line.
As a result of the change, it’s no longer possible to directly schedule an appointment at the state’s seven mass vaccination centers. Those seeking appointments must use the preregistration system and await an invitation from the state.
The state recently added several medical conditions to its list of comorbidities. If you’ve already preregistered and now qualify under the newly added conditions, the Baker administration says it is working on a tool to allow people to update their registration. But that option is not yet available.
If you are a Mass. resident who is 75 and older, you can call 211 for assistance with booking an appointment.
Option 2: Sign up for an appointment at a pharmacy, grocery store, hospital, or other location
In addition to the state’s mass vaccination sites, some appointments are also available at local public health collaboratives and health care providers — including hospitals. The federal government is also sending doses to pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retail locations. You can search for appointments using the participating locations’ individual websites, or by using vaxfinder.mass.gov.
Having trouble finding open appointments at the time you’re searching? The Twitter account @vaccinetime, which is run by software engineer Dan Cahoon, scrapes vaccine appointment websites and automatically tweets when new appointments are posted. You can also sign up for e-mail alerts through COVID Vaccine Finder, a website run by three sisters that sends an e-mail when new appointments are posted.
Option 3: Homebound program and other specialty programs
Programs serving targeted populations have also become available in recent weeks.
Mass. residents who are homebound can call (833) 983-0485 to speak with someone who can help determine if they are eligible for an in-home vaccination appointment.
Local health departments may also be offering vaccine clinics for residents or for those who are part of specific groups, like veterans, first responders, or educators. Check with your local city or town health department for more information.