Residency restrictions lead to confusion at Framingham vaccine site

Elizabeth Papendorp was thrilled to snag a slot in Framingham for her 85-year-old mother to get her first coronavirus vaccine shot.

Her excitement faded when the Somerville resident drove her mother, who lives in Dracut, to the Keefe Regional Technical School on Saturday only to find out her mother wasn’t eligible for a vaccine there because she’s not a Framingham resident.

“They said, ‘You should have received a cancellation if you’re not a Framingham resident,’” Papendorp told the Herald. “I said we didn’t. We were not the only ones.”

Several seniors who showed up to the Keefe school on Saturday soon learned the site was supposed to be restricted to city residents. After waiting outside, they were still given their first shots, but were told the city wouldn’t be able to book their second doses.

“It was a nightmare,” Papendorp said. “I would not have made her an appointment there if it had said ‘for Framingham residents only.’”

The mishap occurred after the Framingham vaccination site was mistakenly posted on the state’s registration portal as open to anyone age 75 or older, the group currently eligible under Phase 2 of the state’s rollout, Mayor Yvonne Spicer said.

“The state’s portal opened this up to everybody and we had to go back and manually tell people” they couldn’t get their shot there, Spicer told the Herald. “This is a closed vaccination event and for Framingham residents, and somehow, some way, people still ended up with a confirmation.”

Eligible Framingham residents were given their vaccines first. But Spicer said the city was ultimately able to accommodate those from other communities, including Papendorp’s mother and someone who had traveled up from Easton, using extra doses left over from first responder vaccinations.

Still, Spicer said the city “couldn’t guarantee” that they’d have enough second doses on hand for the out-of-towners, hence why they were told to look elsewhere for the next round.

“We have 300 shots for Framingham residents. Nearly 75,000 people live in Framingham,” Spicer said. “This is a drop in the bucket compared to the work that’s ahead of us.”

The miscommunication in Framingham was just the latest shot snafu to plague the state’s Phase 2 vaccine rollout.

But with more vaccination sites coming online, tens of thousands of new appointments added each week and hope on the horizon for more vaccines, Spicer said “it will get better.”

“Be patient,” she pleaded. “Just be patient.”

Papendorp will soon be back to perusing the state’s online portal to book a second shot for her mom — a process now complicated by the fact she’ll have to find a new site that offers the same type of vaccine that her mom received in Framingham.

“I’m happy she was able to get one dose,” Papendorp said. “This was just really unfortunate. I know it’ll get better — I hope it will.”

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