NORTH ADAMS (CBS) – Robin Meyer of North Adams says she was lucky to get her spouse a COVID-19 vaccine appointment on Thursday night, right before Massachusetts launched a new preregistration system. “We spent two solid days in front of a computer, sometimes in front of four screens trying to get a vaccine,” she said.

Her family snagged an appointment when a friend alerted them a small number of appointments would open up at a spot nearby at 6 p.m. Thursday. “They were all gone in two minutes,” she said. “That’s not hyperbole.”

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On Friday, Massachusetts launched a new system that allows people to preregister for a shot regardless of eligibility. The state then notifies people who are eligible when an appointment is available for them.

While the sign-up process was straightforward for roughly 400,000 people Friday, Meyer told WBZ it didn’t necessarily apply to her area. “The problem is that Governor Baker has abandoned the Berkshires,” she said.


As it stands, the new system only signs people up for appointments at seven mass vaccination sites, the furthest west of which is in Springfield, a three to four hour round trip drive for someone in Meyer’s area. “We don’t have trains; we don’t have buses,” she explained. “So we are left using the old Massachusetts Vaccination System.”

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That system — used for the last few months in the state — is notorious for long wait times, error pages, and a lack of available appointments. The governor “has really left us to fend for ourselves out here,” Meyer explained. “It’s a little bit like the Hunger Games trying to get an appointment.”

Meyer said she feels lucky her spouse got an appointment, and she worries especially for low-income families and the elderly in her area. She says the Berkshire Health Collaborative has worked hard to make vaccines accessible to local people, but gets a very limited number of vaccines each week.

Governor Baker has said as the preregistration system develops, more sites in more locations will be added to the list.

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Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you’re eligible and to book an appointment.

Kristina Rex