BOSTON (WHDH) - Bay State residents over the age of 65 will be included in the state’s COVID-19 vaccine eligibility list beginning Thursday and moderate to severe asthma has been added as a comorbidity, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday.
Beginning tomorrow, vaccination appointments will open up for about 1 million more residents including people 65 years and older, people who have at least two comorbidities, and people who live and work in low-income or affordable senior housing facilities, Baker said during a news conference at the State House.
Qualifying comorbidities include cancer, COPD, kidney disease, Down’s syndrome, heart conditions, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, sickle cell disease, and Type 2 diabetes, and asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A total of 70,000 new vaccination appointments are slated to go live across the state at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Additional appointments will be added to pharmacies and regional collaborative sites throughout the week.
The new appointments opening tomorrow will be spaced out over the next week. and CIC health said they’re ready.
“There is really no big difference for us in terms of this new group coming to the operation,” Chief Marketing and Experience Officer Rodrigo Martinez said.
The state decided to expand its eligibility list for Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout after learning that the weekly shipment of first dose shots would be increasing from 110,000 to 139,000 beginning next week.
“Finally, we’re seeing a very modest increase in our supply by 29,000 first doses,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said.
This comes after the federal government announced Tuesday that it will again boost its weekly distribution of vaccine doses to states by 2.5 million, an increase of 23 percent.
Baker stressed that it could take at least a month for all eligible residents to get an appointment due to the high demand for appointments and limited vaccine supply. He also stated that he is hopeful the federal government will start to regularly add to the state’s shipments.
“Most states now have the capacity to do far more vaccinations than we actually have supply,” Baker said. “We were led to believe that by the time we got to the end of February, there was going to be a big increase in available capacity coming from the feds.”
In an effort to streamline the process of quickly getting shots in arms, dozens of towns will no longer be sent an allotment of first doses of the vaccine. Instead, pharmacy sites, regional locations, and mass vaccination sites will receive a larger vaccine shipment.
“This is about speed. The higher the number of doses we deliver every day is going to drive how fast we got the next group,” Baker said. “Larger enterprises can deliver a heck of a lot more vaccines more quickly.”
Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, and several other communities highly impacted by the virus will continue to receive vaccines on the local level.
Appointments can be made on the state’s vaccine finder website, where a map of more than 170 vaccination sites can be found.
Earlier this month, Baker announced a call center to assist eligible residents with booking vaccine appointments.
Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout launched on Feb. 1 with residents 75 years of age or older.
As of Tuesday, a total of 1,166,516 vaccine doses had been administered in Massachusetts, including 304,657 people who are fully vaccinated. More than 250,000 residents over the age of 75 have also received their first dose.
CIC Health will begin administering shots at the Reggie Lewis Center in the near future.
Massachusetts is now statistically considered a top 10 state for vaccinations, Baker noted.
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