Massachusetts residents at least 60 years old and a new group of essential workers will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, the same day that the Hynes Convention Center in Boston will officially open as the state's latest mass vaccination site.
That means grocery store employees across the Bay State will be able to register for a vaccine appointment, along with retail and food service workers, convenience store workers, transit workers, public works and sanitation workers, utility workers and people in public health.
Those working in the court system, food pantry workers and volunteers, vaccine development workers and medical supply chain volunteers are also eligible.
This is a huge relief for many Massachusetts essential workers who must continue working around other people during the coronavirus pandemic.
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"The faster, more efficiently we can get everything done, the better," said Waltham resident Kevin Tierney. "The sooner I can hug grandma. You know it's been a year, I'd love to do that."
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Massachusetts has its fans and its critics.
“It’s awesome to see that people at high risk have been getting priority,” said Boston resident Gideon Tully.
“I find it very difficult to understand why it can’t be coordinated better,” said John Toner, of Marblehead.
But everyone NBC10 Boston spoke with on Sunday agrees that Monday's step forward is a good thing.
“I think that’s great,” Chrissie Connors said.
But some say it was a mistake to wait this long to vaccinate those essential workers who have put themselves at risk for more than a year now.
“If the food service workers were eligible earlier, the restaurants wouldn’t be in such tough shape,” Toner said.
“Food service workers probably should’ve been considered eligible from the start. They’ve been the people at the front doing the work," Connors said. "I’ve super been appreciative of the people bagging my groceries.”
You can preregister for an appointment at a mass vaccination site at mass.gov/COVIDVaccine. Appointments are based on eligibility and availability. It is expected that more sites will come online as part of the preregistration process in April, when more residents become eligible.
The next group expected to be able to become vaccinated in Massachusetts includes those aged 55 years or older, as well as residents with one specified medical condition.
In addition to increased vaccine eligibility Monday, there are a number of other changes happening, including entering the final phase of the state's reopening plan, Boston resuming outdoor dining and the state relaxing travel restrictions.
“I think all the things that are happening right now look like they’re moving in an awesome direction,” Tully said.