Not only will there be fewer vaccine appointments available, some bookings may be canceled

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Think about all the complaints in the last week from people struggling to get a vaccine appointment on the state’s Vaxfinder website.

“He was in the waiting room for a few hours and had to go to a doctor’s appointment,” said Reading resident Jennifer Perrone about her dad. “He got the email that he had 10 minutes to log in and he missed his opportunity so I’m just hoping it’ll be easier for everyone.”

But it’s not getting easier for the first-timers. Now that thousands of people have received their first dose, the state is having to set aside more vaccinations for people getting their second dose. This means first-timers will have an even harder time getting in and the state says we can expect that trend to continue.

This week the state received about 250,000 doses.

The majority of them set aside for hospitals, health clinics, and pharmacies.

The state set aside about 45,000 for second dose appointments at mass vaccination sites and 7,500 for older adults who are unable to use a computer and need to call 211 to book.

That leaves only 12,000 new first-dose appointments on the state’s Vaxfinder website. Compare that to 50,000 last week.

By 7:15 a.m. Thursday, the state tweeted that first-dose appointments for Fenway, Gillette, and the Reggie Lewis Center were all filled.

“It’s so hard getting an appointment I feel bad for the people hopefully will get better,” said Reading resident Ann Gentile.

But it’s not getting better. The state says to expect that downward trend to continue.

And it’s not just a downward trend that will continue, now we are learning the state is telling vaccination locations to prepare to potentially cut back.

“They didn’t receive the federal allocation of vaccines that they expected,” said Michael Curry of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. “So providers have been told to cancel appointments and cut back and not to expect what they anticipated in terms of putting vaccines in arms. That is a breaking issue as we speak from the calls I just came off of.”

This potential cutback adding to the frustrations of millions of residents waiting to get their appointments.

“I wish they were more organized getting the appointments because they were so organized getting me a shot,” said Ann who was one of the lucky ones even though it didn’t come easy.

“A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook and she said there were appointments available for July so I went right away,” said her daughter Jennifer. “I think I got it at the right time and I booked an appointment for my mom. I wasn’t able to book one for my father because they were all gone.”

Of the 250,000 doses, the state says about 58,000 are Johnson and Johnson which will be distributed throughout different locations.

“That’s an equity issue if any community is relegated to one vaccine and here’s the sticking point in that: the data is still evolving around these vaccines,” said Curry. “So if, for instance, there’s a variant, a mutation of the virus at some point and one vaccine is better than another, that should not be specific to black and brown folks that all got J&J. Then the other issue is when there’s a supply shortage.”

That supply shortage may be here already. Curry says the vaccination sites were expecting to be ramping up in the weeks to come especially with J&J here now, but the next J&J shipment, won’t come until the end of the month.

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