BOSTON (WGGB/WSHM) -- There’s a sigh of relief for approximately one million Massachusetts residents who have been waiting for their chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Governor Charlie Baker opened up vaccine eligibility starting Thursday for those 65 years and older and for those with two or more serious health conditions.
The governor presented this news with a big caveat. At least three times, he reminded people that limited vaccine supply means this eligibility group could be waiting for weeks just to schedule an appointment.
“It’s very important to me. They’re my life. I just want to be with my grandkids,” said Jeanne Vannelli, 68, of Springfield.
Vannelli has been waiting for 11 months to see her family without the constant fear of getting sick from COVID-19. Starting Thursday, she will be eligible to schedule a covid-19 vaccine appointment along with others in the 65 to 74-year-old age range and those with two or more serious health conditions.
It’s the next round of eligibility in the state's vaccine rollout plan.
“These two groups that we are now opening up the vaccination process to represent around one million people,” Baker explained.
However, doing the math, vaccinating one million newly eligible people is a tall order compared to the meager number of doses provided to Massachusetts from the federal government between 100,000 to 110,000 doses weekly.
“Unless we see a massive increase in shipments from the feds, it will take us at least a month for people in these new groups to be able to book their first vaccine appointment,” Baker said.
However, state health officials said next week, they've been promised an increased shipment of 139,000 doses.
“The first very modest increase in a very long time,” said Mass. Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
Feeling the slow-moving nature of the vaccine supply are those who spent weeks waiting on the brink of being eligible, sharing their concerns with Western Mass News.
“Very frustrated, but I understand that we’re trying to do the best that we can,” Vannelli added.
Rosemary Meehan of Feeding Hills said, “I’m a bus driver, so I was leery of going back because of not having the shot.”
Appointments can be made online starting Thursday. Those who can't access the internet can call 211 and follow the prompts for assistance in making an appointment.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.