Starting Friday, Massachusetts residents 75 and older who struggle to use the state's COVID-19 vaccine website may call 2-1-1 to get live, phone-based assistance booking an appointment.
Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled the call center plan Friday alongside the launch of a new awareness campaign aimed at widely distributing clear information about COVID-19 vaccine options.
The state-run phone line will be staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with representatives who speak both English and Spanish, plus translators available for more than 100 additional languages, Baker said.
If no appointments are available within a viable distance, adults 75 and older can ask to be placed on a "callback list" to be alerted about future openings.
Many older adults have faced obstacles navigating the state's appointment website since Baker announced last week that they could start booking slots, prompting sharp criticism and calls for additional action.
Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders stressed that the call center is only open to adults 75 and older and that the website remains the best option for securing vaccine appointments.
"We believe this resource will be a huge help to individuals over 75 who may not have access to the internet or may have trouble using the website," Baker said. "However, we still recommend using the website if it's possible to do so, because you may experience, especially as this thing gets going, significant wait times using the call center."
This post is developing and will be updated.