By Tiffany Chan

BOSTON (CBS) – The sudden rush to get vaccinated has hospitals and health centers swamped with patients, and same-day appointments are going fast.

“A lot of places were very busy, but I was able to find an appointment pretty quickly,” said Teddy Yablonsky as he waited to get a booster shot at the Whittier Street Health Center in Boston.

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The Omicron variant is here in Massachusetts, and that’s reason enough for Boston College student Cade Schaffer to get the COVID vaccine booster shot.

“I think it was partially the new variant, and then additionally I plan on traveling for winter break,” Schaffer said. “I want to make sure my family is kept safe from me traveling.”

Brockton Neighborhood Health Center’s Dr. Joe Panerio-Langer said the new variant is bolstering vaccination turnout.

“I think it does cause a level of fear. People are getting worried about what’s going to happen,” said Dr. Panerio-Langer.

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The wait, he said, isn’t caused by a vaccine shortage. There’s a sharp increase in people wanting a booster shot, but not enough manpower.

“Everybody is completely backed up and that’s having a downstream consequence on all health conditions,” said Dr. Panerio-Langer.

Patients at the Whittier Street Health Clinic told WBZ-TV they didn’t mind the wait.

“[The wait] started two days ago, and I’m already getting one today,” said Yablonsky.

While it’s still unclear whether the vaccine will protect people from the Omicron variant, Schaffer said it’s better to be safe than sick.

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“Any kind of protection I can get is good enough for me right now.”

Tiffany Chan