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Frustrated Mass. seniors struggling to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointment

BOSTON (WHDH) – Booking an appointment online to receive a coronavirus vaccine in Massachusetts has proven frustrating for many senior residents and their loved ones.

RELATEDWhere can you get vaccinated? Here is a map of sites that are open in Mass.

The state is moving into Phase 2 of its vaccination plan this coming Monday and residents 75 years and older will be first in line to get vaccinated.

“We were expecting something pretty easy and that’s not what we found,” stated Kristen Sampson who says she spent hours on the state’s website trying to secure an appointment for her mother.

“The virtual waiting room, it was a long wait between a half-hour and an hour depending on when I tried it and then you get in, you put in your zip code and it says nothing is available,” she said.

From the hurdles of figuring out how the process works to the long wait times, Sampson said older adults may not be able to get through it by themselves.

“This was not even my mother trying, this was me,” she said.

Ophthalmologist Dr. John Saragas added that, “I have very few patients that are in that age group that are internet savvy enough to be able to maneuver around that.”

Saragas, who got vaccinated through his hospital, feels the state should make it easier for seniors to sign up for vaccinations without having to go online.

“Most of them know how to get on Facebook…They know how to do a text or an email,” Saragas said. “Other than that, I think you’re asking too much.”

Saragas believes a phone system would be of great help to seniors.

“If you’re going to have somebody at a phone bank, why not just take the information right then and there?” Saragas suggested.

In neighboring New Hampshire, there is a centralized system.

People can register to get a shot in four steps: They are screened for eligibility, they sign a medical form, enter their contact info and then wait for an email informing them of their appointment.

When asked why the system is so complicated, Gov. Charlie Baker simply stated, “Honestly, I don’t know.”

Gov. Charlie Baker urged family members and friends of senior residents to assist them with booking online appointments.

To make an appointment, head to the state’s website to view a list COVID-19 vaccination locations for individuals in eligible groups and phases. Residents can then scroll down to the map, click a location near you, and then press the “book an appointment” link.

Any senior who is experiencing trouble booking an appointment can click here to get assistance.

Sampson, like many others, ended up not getting an appointment and 7NEWS asked Baker what can be done to help those trying to sign up now.

“I understand and I think we all appreciate that it’s going to require a certain amount of patience for people to understand that it may take several trips to the website where they’ll be able to get an appointment,” he said.

Sampson said while she does not blame the state for doing this online or for the supply issue, she believes there needs to be more information available.

“This is when the websites are going to be open, we expect to have this many appointments available, so that we know if there is a good chance or a good chance,” she said.

Many other seniors say they are waiting to hear from their personal doctors about how they can get vaccinated.

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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