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Baker Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center, Safety Awareness Campaign

BOSTON (CBS) -- The state is launching a call center for COVID-19 vaccine appointments, Governor Charlie Baker announced Friday. The call center will be available through 211.

"We believe this resource will be a huge help to individuals who are over 75, who may not have access to the internet or have trouble using the website," the governor said.

As of Friday morning, there were 20,000 appointments available at the state's three mass vaccination sites.

According to Baker, callers on Friday should expect to be put on hold due to a high call volume.

There will be 500 representatives staffing the line who will be able to help callers in English and Spanish with translators for other languages available. The line will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"If no appointments are available within a distance that the caller can travel, callers will be offered the chance to be placed on a callback list for the mass vaccination sites," said Baker.

The call center and website will show the same availability for appointments.

Baker said "the website will remain the quickest and fastest way for someone to find and schedule an appointment," and it will continue to be improved.

For now, the call center is for residents 75 and older who are eligible for the vaccine. The line will remain available for people 65 and older once they are eligible for the vaccine as well.

The governor said the call center took a week to create because "you need people who have a particular set of skills and capabilities to be able to serve and support people on this. Secondly, you need to train them and make sure that they're going to be able to do what you need to do, not just in English, but in multiple languages."

The state is also launching a $2.5 million safety awareness campaign about the COVID vaccine. It features "medical professionals to build trust in communities of color, and other populations disproportionately affected by the virus because the data makes clear that this is the best way to reach those who are not sure about the vaccine," said Baker.

This includes TV advertisements, the first of which will air during the Super Bowl pre-game show, which you can watch on WBZ-TV on Sunday afternoon.

Massachusetts has now received 1.2 million doses of the vaccine. Of those delivered, 713,000 shots have been given as of Thursday.

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