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BOSTON – Hearing frequently from AARP members that “they do not know when, where or how to schedule” a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, AARP Massachusetts sent a letter to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker asking him to establish a toll-free phone number for senior citizens to register for the COVID-19 vaccines.

Mike Festa, State Director of AARP Massachusetts, and Sandra Harris, State President of AARP Massachusetts, sent this letter to Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature today urging for increased access to information about where, when and how people can sign up for the vaccine.

“In many instances, our members cannot access the internet. AARP urges you to immediately establish a dedicated 1-800 number for seniors to call to receive assistance in signing up for a vaccination,” wrote the two leaders.

“Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 95 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 have been among people 50 and older. The data clearly show that the older people are, the higher risk they face if they contract COVID-19. Given that older individuals are at a greater risk of death from COVID-19, we strongly urge you to ensure that Bay State residents age 50 and older are prioritized to receive a vaccine. These individuals must be given priority access to vaccines, in addition to those individuals receiving care in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities,” wrote the AARP leaders to Gov. Baker.

“Older Massachusetts residents must be prioritized to receive COVID-19 vaccines – and that the system they access to receive vaccines works, and works efficiently. Individuals need to know where, when and how they can receive the vaccines,” wrote the two AARP leaders. “We continue to hear from members that they do not know when, where or how to schedule an appointment. This is unacceptable to AARP and should be to all Bay Staters. Massachusetts can and must do better.

“We cannot stress enough how eager people are in Massachusetts to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, which offers so much promise for a return to normalcy. There is incredible demand from our members for more information about when, where and how they can get a vaccine. AARP Massachusetts stands ready to work with you and support your efforts to get information to people as quickly as possible,” wrote the two AARP leaders to the Governor.

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“AARP is calling upon your leadership and your proven record of cutting through bureaucracy to benefit those in need. The current system must be fixed as soon as possible. The state’s website must be improved. There must be a state run toll-free telephone number to make an appointment for a vaccination,” wrote Festa & Harris.

AARP Massachusetts told the Governor in their letter that the organization has heard “from some older Massachusetts residents about confusion on how to schedule their second shot. The failure to schedule an appointment for the needed follow-up shot when the first shot is administered is causing confusion and delays and may result in some not receiving their second shot.”

“Massachusetts should require uniform standards across the state to ensure that an appointment for the needed follow-up shot be made when individuals receive their first shot, regardless of whether the first shot was administered by a state-run vaccination site or a private site,” wrote Harris & Festa.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.