Massachusetts vaccine hotline is up and running

Feb 8, 2021

This story has been updated to reflect that the vaccine clinic at the Gleason Family YMCA will now open Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Wareham’s seniors who prefer the phone to the internet now have a way to schedule a covid-19 vaccine appointment.

On Friday, Feb. 5, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the state had launched a call center for those age 75 and older who were unable to access the vaccine appointment website or who had trouble navigating the complex online system.

From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, anyone in Massachusetts older than 75 can call 211 and navigate to the vaccine help line by pressing two when prompted. 

Baker said there would be over 500 people working the call center and providing support.

“We’ve continued to make improvements to the mass.gov/covidvaccine website where people can make appointments directly, but we recognize that the call center will be a better option for many older adults who may not have someone to help them book an appointment online,” Baker said during a press conference.

Baker said call center workers who spoke English and Spanish would be available, and there would be translators available to support residents in about 100 additional languages.

Call center workers will have the same access to appointments that users would see online, Baker explained. He stressed that the call center would not provide access to additional appointments. There are no appointments exclusively available through the call center.

As appointments become available, call center workers will be able to help local seniors make appointments at sites in Wareham or nearby.

Baker noted that the hotline would likely experience very high call volumes, extending call wait times. 

“We still recommend using the website if it’s possible to do so because you may experience — at least as this thing starts to get going — significant wait times using the call center and the website will remain the quickest and fastest way for someone to find and schedule an appointment if they’re comfortable using it,” Baker said.

Those aged 75 and older can book appointments for the vaccine using the state’s website: https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine. Alternatively, those eligible for vaccines can sign up for Southcoast Health’s MyChart portal, which automatically adds people to the healthcare provider’s list of prospective vaccine recipients, at mychart.southcoast.org/mychart/signup.

Those who already have a MyChart account are automatically added to that list of potential vaccine recipients.

Southcoast Health’s Gleason Family YMCA vaccination site, located at 33 Charge Pond Road in Wareham, is set to begin vaccinations on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Baker also pointed out that limited vaccine availability has resulted in appointments being scarce, even for those eligible.

“If no appointments are available within a distance that the caller can travel, callers will be offered the chance to be placed on a call back list for the Mass vaccination sites,” he said. “They’ll receive a call back when more appointments are available at these sites.”