Officials are promising vaccine signups will get “easier” in Massachusetts this week with the launch Friday of a centralized pre-registration system for booking appointments and the announcement of dedicated teacher vaccination days at the state’s seven largest vaccination sites.

The decision to implement a centralized pre-registration system for the state’s seven mass vaccination sites comes amid weeks of mounting pressure from state and federal lawmakers to streamline the signup process following repeated website failures and long wait times that have fanned frustrations.

“The new system will make it easier to request and book an appointment at a mass vaccination site,” according to a press release from Gov. Charlie Baker’s office.

...The announcement of the streamlined booking platform comes six weeks after a turbulent rollout into Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout that on Feb. 1 exposed massive technology shortfalls and left older residents scrambling to book appointments. Those technology failures intensified weeks later when eligibility opened up to about 1 million people over 65 and those with two or more comorbidities, causing repeated system crashes.

Members of Massachusetts congressional delegation who sent a letter to Baker last month urging him to adopt a pre-registration system cheered his announcement on Wednesday.

“I am glad Massachusetts is finally adding a pre-registration process and with it, providing residents more transparency and confidence as they look to be vaccinated,” U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, who led the letter, said in a statement to the Herald. “Getting an appointment should never have been a competition with neighbors or a daily anxiety. Moving forward, I hope to see this system expand beyond mass vax sites to include local providers that are more accessible to communities across the Commonwealth.”

Teachers — as promised — will also get easier access to vaccines with four dates designated as educator-only vaccination days at all seven mass vaccination sites on four Saturdays in March and April.

K-12 educators, school staff and child care workers will be able to use the pre-registration tool to sign up for vaccine appointments on March 27, April 3, April 10 and April 11.

“We will help educators in order to align Massachusetts with the Biden-Harrs administrations directive to states to prioritize teacher vaccinations,” Sudders said Wednesday morning. “We do that understanding we are not getting additional state distribution increase in our vaccine.”

Massachusetts will continue to receive about 150,000 new first vaccination from the federal government per week through the end of March, Sudders said.

On Thursday, 40,000 of those appointments will open up appointments at mass vaccination sites for the last time. Beginning next week, mass vaccination site appointments must be booked through the new central registration tool.


Original story here.