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COVID Booster Demand 'Skyrocketing' In Massachusetts

BOSTON (CBS) - On Tuesday night, a line more than 100 people deep was wrapped around Tufts Medical Center, waiting for a booster shot at the hospital's walk-in vaccine clinic. "The demand is skyrocketing," said Nicholas Duncan, the hospital's Director of Operations and Emergency Management. "People are eager to get boosted."

Since all adult Americans became eligible for the booster shot -- and since a new variant of COVID-19 was discovered in South Africa -- appointments have been harder to find.

Booking appointments at major pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens means booking at least two weeks out or being unable to find a conveniently located appointment.

"We are hearing a lot of people say they were trying to find appointments closer to home or at a local CVS and they weren't able to support that, the demand is obviously overwhelming many different local pharmacies and smaller mom and pop pharmacies as well so that's why we are happy to continue to support giving a boosters to everyone who can stand in line embrace the cold for a few minutes just to be able to go inside and get their booster," Duncan said.

In Massachusetts, more than 1.1 million people have already gotten a booster dose. The CDC recently strengthened its recommendation to say that all American adults not only can get a booster, but should.

On Tuesday night, Marjorie McAloon of Taunton became one more Massachusetts resident with a booster shot. "I had gotten COVID a year ago in May, so I need to be up-to-date because I'm older and I don't wanna get sick again," she explained.

She was hospitalized for three days when she had the virus, and says the booster is important for her to avoid that illness again.

"Me and my wife tried to show up before the end of the workday thinking we would miss the line, but we waited about an hour in line," said Josh Arki of Boston after getting his booster at Tufts. "It's important because the pandemic is still going," he added. "For me it's more about the time frame and the holiday season than anything else but I'm certainly concerned about the variant, [too]."

Governor Charlie Baker says the state is administering roughly 50,000 booster shots a day but has no plans to add back any mass vaccination sites like Gillette Stadium or Hynes Convention Center like the state saw in the initial vaccine rollout. Instead, the state will work with local partners to add available local, smaller clinics.

"We have 1,000 locations across Massachusetts right now where people can get vaccinated and I think our goal right here would be to see if we could put together more," Baker said. "It would be faster and easier for us to do this if we work in conjunction with our colleagues in local government because I think in some respects that's a faster solution than some of the larger sites."

Massachusetts residents can use to find a full list of locations to receive a booster.

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