DANVERS (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the decision to allow caregivers to receive their COVID-19 vaccine when they bring someone 75 or older to a site is expected to help get more shots administered in the senior community.
"One of the things we heard from some of the senior groups was that people don't want to put the burden - if you want to call it that - on a family member, companion, friend, whatever it might be, to take them to a mass vax site to get vaccinated," Baker said at a news conference Wednesday at the Danvers mass vaccination site.
Starting Thursday, friends or family who are making appointments for residents older than 75 can make one for themselves as well.
"We hope this change will encourage more 75 and older residents to get their vaccines at mass vaccination sites, which have the most availability," Baker said.
Phase 2 of the state's vaccine plan got underway February 1 with shots for residents 75 and older. Once that group is vaccinated, people over 65 are also eligible.
Earlier this week, Baker said that there are 430,000 people over the age of 75 in the Bay State, and about 200,000 have received their first dose so far. He added that the state is not quite ready to make residents over 65 eligible for their vaccine.
"Our hope is that, with the announcement today, that someone who is taking an older adult - a trusted companion, a caregiver, or a family member with someone who's 75 or older - be vaccinated in tandem will bring an extra level of comfort to those who may be hesitant, or don't want to bother their caregiver or loved one, or a good friend to book an appointment," said Sec. of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders.
Sudders also cautioned seniors to be careful.
"Please do not accept calls offering assistance from someone you do not know, you do not trust to take you to a vaccination appointment," she said.
"The plan is that they have to attest that they're actually a caregiver and it's only one person and they have to book in advance. I think that's as much as they can do to keep people honest," said Tufts Medical Center Epidemiologist Dr. Gabriela Andujar Vazquez. "The ultimate goal of all of us is that we vaccinate as much people as possible."
The state will post 74,000 appointments online Thursday for mass vaccination sites and pharmacies at locations across Massachusetts. Another 30,000 additional appointments will be posted by the end of the week, pushing the total to more than 100,000.
Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you're eligible and to book an appointment.
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