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Massachusetts vaccine sites are now searchable by zip code

Boston Herald logo Boston Herald 1/31/2021 Lisa Kashinsky
a person wearing glasses: BOSTON, MA - January 29, 2021: Employees with Cataldo Ambulances Services prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the state's mass vaccination site run by CIC Health at Fenway Parkin Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald) © Provided by Boston Herald BOSTON, MA - January 29, 2021: Employees with Cataldo Ambulances Services prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the state's mass vaccination site run by CIC Health at Fenway Parkin Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Residents can now search by zip code for coronavirus vaccination sites as the state looks for ways to improve its registration system after technical difficulties plagued signups for seniors.

The state added the zip code search feature to its vaccine location-finder web page on Sunday.

Residents are now able to plug in their zip code to find mass vaccination sites, pharmacies and grocery store sites, and local vaccine clinics within a three- to 50-mile radius. The map that shows those locations using color-coded stars is still available.

The search feature update comes as the state prepares to begin vaccinating residents ages 75 and older on Monday.

And it follows a cacophony of calls from advocates and lawmakers to make the online registration process easier after technical glitches and clunky websites sowed confusion and anxiety among many who scrambled to sign up themselves and their loved ones when slots first opened last Wednesday.

“It’s a debacle,” state Sen. Eric Lesser told the Herald earlier this week. “When we should be having mass vaccinations, instead we’re having mass confusion.”

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Lesser, D-Longmeadow, filed emergency legislation that would create a centralized online registration system instead of relying on third-party websites for booking and would launch a phone hotline to help those who lack internet access register for the shots.

The bill was quickly co-sponsored by 57 lawmakers, including state Sen. Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, who led a letter with dozens of her colleagues urging Gov. Charlie Baker to start a 1-800 hotline.

Baker said on Thursday the state would open a call center this upcoming week. But the administration so far has eschewed overhauling its online registration system to a centralized format.

In the meantime, municipalities are beginning to launch their own call centers to help register residents for shots and connect those not yet eligible with information to assist them down the line.

Lawrence officials on Sunday announced plans to open a call center on Monday, saying in a press release, “The call center is an integral part of helping our elder population with the technology barriers that most elders are facing in our community.”

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