Episode 9: Fight Club–Booking a Vaccine in Massachusetts

Copy of Copy of Episode 4_ Kim Boggini

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About the episode

People are crowdsourcing tips on Facebook. They’re setting alarms to wake up in the middle of the night and refresh their browser. They’ve set up multiple computers and phones to be ready to pounce when the time comes…

Stacey Deeds searches for appointments for her elderly aunt and a caregiver

So goes the hunt to book appointments for people aged 65 and older to get vaccines in Massachusetts. “You would get halfway through the process of putting information in,” said Stacey Deeds, trying to book an appointment for her elderly mother and aunt. “And then all of a sudden, the slot that you had chosen was gone. So you get kicked back out. You start again, kicked back out, start again.” What a mess. Today we talk with residents about their frustration and anger that the state website set up to handle booking vaccination appointments–can’t handle it. We also talk with state Senator Patrick O’Connor who sits on the Joint Committee on COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness and Management. When will it be fixed and what happens next to get the most shots in arms in Massachusetts?  

We also asked for tips from people who had scored vaccine appointments. Lauren Burm said, “Refresh frequently,” and “Try a lot of zip codes.” Charlotte McAlpine said, “Use multiple browsers and devices and constantly move within the site to stay in” and “pre-type everything into a notepad application to copy/paste when you’re able to get into an appointment” and “Call 211, they WILL call you back.” Several people urged patience, persistence and flexibility. Kerry Ni said, “CVS releases appointments first thing each morning (around 5/6 AM) and has you book both appointments at the same time.”  Liz Coakley said, “Join these two Facebook groups: Massachusetts Vaccine Hunters and Vaccine Hunters/Angels Massachusetts.” She also said to, “Click on the LAST page of results and then click a later time on the day. Everyone is trying for the first thing they see – work backwards instead!” Deb Brockney used the mass.gov website. “Thursdays are reload day for mass vaccine sites. Rumor has it it’s at like midnight when they reload-so… logging in at like 1am might be worth it.” Liz West said she and her husband had wildly different experiences, “I went to the page the evening before they released the appointments and left it open all night, hit refresh at 8am and I was able to navigate freely and look at multiple appointments.” she said, “On the other hand my husband just went to the page at 8am and ended up in that waiting room hell.” Be open to a bit of travel. You may get Randolph, but you may be driving to Dartmouth. And urged McAlpine, “Take whatever brand vaccine you are offered.” Good Luck!

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