Some Massachusetts residents scouring for second vaccine doses

BOSTON — As a new group of Massachusetts residents becomes eligible for vaccination on Monday, some are still scouring for their second doses.

There are several reasons why people who received their first dose of the vaccine do not have second appointments booked.

Some were vaccinated at clinics that are no longer open. Others made the mistake of not securing their second appointment right after their first shot.

For 81-year-old Kollegal Murthy - it wasn’t his fault. The vaccination site he went to last month at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield didn’t offer a second appointment on location.

“They said you need the second dose three weeks later. They gave a date, but they didn’t say it would be available on that day,” said Murthy. “For two weeks after my first injection, it was blocked.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health strongly encourages all vaccination sites to schedule patients’ second appointments at the time of their first dose. However, it’s not required.

“We still see cases of people not being able to get their second doses at all or being given conflicting information about how to get their second dose,” said Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow.

Lesser helped to correct the issue experienced by thousands last month at the Eastfield Mall.

He says other sites aren’t necessarily to blame for people not getting their second appointments right away.

“The local health clinics and the local fire stations, where they know the local community… they were doing the first shots, and the governor yanked those doses so they weren’t able to do the second shots,” explained Lesser.

The state ensures that everyone who received a first dose will also get a second dose. That doesn’t come with a guaranteed timeline.

“The most important thing to do as soon as you get your first vaccination is book your second appointment right there,” said Rodrigo Martinez, Chief Marketing and Experience Officer with CIC Health.

CIC Health, which runs the mass vaccination sites Fenway, Gillette, the Reggie Lewis Center and the Hynes Convention Center, now sends emails to people after their first shot. That email contains a link for their second dose.

CIC has received dozens of calls from people who did not book their second appointments right after their first shot.

Health experts say there’s no harm in getting the second dose several weeks late.

The increased availability of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is expected to cut down on the issue since it’s a single dose.

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