BOSTON (CBS) – People 65 and older and those with two or more eligible medical conditions will be among 1 million Massachusetts residents eligible to make COVID vaccine appointments beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, the state announced.
Currently, people 75 and over and those eligible in Phase 1 can make appointments to receive their vaccine.
Starting Thursday, appointments will be available for those over 65, people with two or more specific medical conditions, and adults who live or work in public and private low-income and affordable senior housing.
The governor said his administration decided to go ahead with this because of a recent successful turn in the number of vaccinations that now has the state ranking ninth in the nation for first doses given.
The state will be using the list of medical conditions provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as moderate to severe asthma.
That list includes conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, Down Syndrome, heart failure or heart disease, immunocompromised individuals, obesity and severe obesity, pregnancy, smoking, and Type 2 diabetes.
More than 70,000 appointments will be available for booking starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday.
"There's no reason to stay up all night," said Gov. Charlie Baker.
No doctor's note is required. The program is based on an honor system.
"I can tell you that based on my conversations with other governors, people, for the most part -- and I've said this many times here -- they follow the rules.
According to the state, it will likely be more than one month before all 1 million of the newly eligible residents are able to secure an appointment.
"Unless we see a massive increase in shipments from the feds, it will take us at least a month for people in these new groups to be able to book their first vaccine appointment," Baker said.
"None of us thinks this program is moving fast enough, but you can't vaccinate people if you don't have the vaccine to make it available."
The state learned late Tuesday night that it will be receiving 139,000 vaccine doses next week, which is an additional 29,000 compared to its current shipments.
About 850,000 people have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Massachusetts, including about 50% of the state's population over 75 years old.
Residents who accompany a person over 75 to a mass vaccination site are currently able to receive a shot themselves. The companion policy will not apply to residents 65 and older who are eligible starting Thursday.
Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you're eligible and to book an appointment or call the hotline at 211.
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