ENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – People in Massachusetts say the vaccine rollout has been confusing and difficult. Issues include not being able to find any open appointments, to not having internet access to make an appointment. But, if you cross the state line into Connecticut, things appear to be going better.
“Very frustrating,” said Hank Senecal of Easthampton about the vaccine rollout in Massachusetts. “I finally stopped bothering with it.”
“It’s not really user friendly and they need more sites here in western Massachusetts,” explained Susan Malinoski, who had been trying to make appointments for her elderly parents.
They both said trying to get a time slot at one of the vaccination sites in western Massachusetts has been nearly impossible.
“They said there’s one day open, April 1st – so I clicked on that,” said Senecal. “Then, it gave available times, and every single time for the whole day was zero.”
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts COVID-19 Response Command Center told the 22News I-Team, “Due to extremely high demand for appointments and limited vaccine supply, it will take time to secure an available appointment. Residents should continue to check for appointments, as they will be added on a rolling basis.”
Timeslots for appointments at mass vaccination sites are made available on Thursdays.
“Anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one at a site near them,” Governor Baker explained during his State of the Commonwealth address in January.
There are about one million people eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine right now in Massachusetts. The state is getting about 100,000 doses per week from the federal government. In Connecticut, there are also about one million residents who can get a vaccine. Last week, the state was shipped about 92,000 doses.
Both states have received right around the same amount of doses from the federal government, but Massachusetts is way behind in administering those doses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bay State ranks 30th in doses administered, while Connecticut ranks 5th.
Another issue in Massachusetts – appointments have to be made online and the process has been called “a maze of links.”
“The phones should have been an option from the beginning,” said Springfield City Councilor and Chairman of the Department of Elder Affairs, Tim Allen.
For elderly Connecticut residents, there are vaccination sites that are accepting appointments over the phone, making it easier for those who don’t have access to the internet or are not good with computers.
“That would be an amazing thing if they could just call up and make an appointment,” Malinoski said. “Or, they need to make their site more user-friendly for the elderly. They don’t know how to upload anything.”
Allen said the Springfield Department of Elder Affairs is helping elderly residents sign up for a vaccine by walking them through the process over the phone.
Gov. Baker said the state is working to set up a call center and more information will be available soon.
Connecticut has a goal of getting everyone vaccinated by the fall. Massachusetts is being more ambitious and expects to start vaccinating the general public in April.