BOSTON – State Sen. John C. Velis Jan. 28 co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Eric Lesser to improve the COVID-19 vaccination sign-up system in Massachusetts. The bill, An Act streamlining COVID-19 vaccination sign-up in Massachusetts, has been filed as an emergency law and would take effect immediately if passed and signed by the Governor.
“I have heard from so many constituents that they have been unable to sign up for vaccine appointments. With each vaccination location utilizing a different booking system, the process is too difficult and flat out confusing, especially for older individuals who might have trouble using the internet to begin with” said Senator Velis. “A centralized system must be implemented, so that Massachusetts residents can easily sign up for vaccine appointments as they become available.”
Earlier this week, the Baker Administration announced that the first priority group in Phase 2 (individuals who are 75+ years old) may begin to book appointments to receive the vaccine on Feb. 1 and beyond. The Administration also announced several new vaccination sites across the state and released information on how to sign up for an appointment.
Currently, eligible residents must first find a vaccination site near them on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website and then book an appointment through that location’s appointment system. With each location having a different system, many Massachusetts residents have reported difficulty in finding appointments.
The bill directs the Department of Public Health to immediately establish an accessible, one-stop online sign-up for COVID-19 vaccinations for both desktop computer and mobile phones. It also requires the immediate implementation of a phone hotline in multiple languages, to be staffed 24/7, and directs the Department of Public Health to notify residents of these streamlined options for vaccination sign up using a text-based notification system, such as “AlertsMA.”
“We need a clearer system here, we need more resources for residents who have difficulty with websites like these,” said Velis. “We all understand that the vaccination output is lagging behind the demand right now, but we need more clarity for our residents and this legislation will greatly improve the current system.”