BOSTON (CBS) – “Welcome to 2-1-1” says a recorded voice when people call Massachusetts’ new COVID-19 Vaccine hotline. It’s supposed to help the 75-and-older age group avoid the confusion of the state’s online system for vaccination appointments. “We expect this call center certainly today will experience very high call volume,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “You may have to wait a bit in the line.”
“I’m relieved that the governor got the message and started to set up a call center,” said Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lesser. “I would point out that it’s two months after the first vaccine doses arrived in Massachusetts.” He and others have been calling for the administration to simplify the vaccine rollout that’s been criticized as slow and inequitable.READ MORE: Watch Live @ 9 AM: Baker Announcement On COVID Vaccinations In Massachusetts
In a news conference Friday, the governor played a public service announcement aimed at picking up the pace. The multilingual spot is set to air during the Super Bowl. Baker also said the state is adding 20,000 new appointments available next week, and more local clinics.
“This is like, to me, I’m floating, because I didn’t think this day was going to come,” said Bernadette Pare, at a new site in Easton Friday. “Sort of like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” added her husband.READ MORE: CVS Lists Teachers As Eligible For COVID Vaccine Appointments In Massachusetts
The new call line is only for people 75 and older, who either don’t have internet access, or have difficulty using it. “Oh, it’s frustrating,” said 76-year-old Carole Perla, who is computer literate, and spoke with WBZ using Zoom. Still, it took her days to find an appointment. She says the technology isn’t the problem; it’s the state’s puzzling system. “I mean you could go in circles and they take you back to the state website and again, no appointments,” she said.
The call center runs from 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday. The governor urges anyone with internet access to use the state’s website as a first option. The call center is meant to be a back-up for those with no other option.MORE NEWS: Boston May Transition Away From Fenway Park As Mass COVID Vaccination Site
Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you’re eligible and to book an appointment.