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On-line Presents To Escort Seniors To Vaccine Appointments Proliferate As Baker Opens Up Slots For Companions

People post online inquiries to offer seniors free rides to vaccination sites in Massachusetts in exchange for their own appointment, and in some cases offer payment or a free lunch to join in.

Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday announced a new initiative aimed at getting more eligible seniors vaccinated. Now in Massachusetts, those accompanying someone 75 years of age or older can get a COVID-19 shot at a mass vaccination site to make an appointment as well.

Baker said Thursday he had heard “disturbing reports” from people trying to escort seniors in exchange for a vaccine appointment. He encouraged seniors to only seek help with the vaccination process from someone they trust.

“Do not take calls or offers from people you do not know well or trust, or give your personal information to anyone else,” said Baker. “If you are contacted by someone who takes you to a website, please report it to the authorities.”

On Twitter, travel blogger Eileen Cotter Wright posted her offer to drive a senior – an offer that included a free meal.

“I am more than happy to drive you to and from your vaccination appointment if you are over 75, lunch is with me! #boston #COVIDVaccine #Massachusetts ”

Quincy-born Cotter Wright, 35, said she recently gave birth and has barely left her home since she was pregnant. When she heard about the vaccine support program, she thought it was a good opportunity to offer her help.

“I’m more than happy to be able to offer them a car with heated seats and a free lunch and whatever else I can offer them,” she said. “One interview, one company, I’ll get in line with Gillette whatever they need because I want more seniors to be vaccinated too.”

She said she hoped people aren’t trying to take advantage of seniors and that it would be “terrible” if that were the intentions of some of the online posters.

“I think it’s an odd loophole,” said Cotter Wright, “especially because I know a lot of people are very eager to get vaccinated.” It’s an interesting tactic for them. “

There are dozens of postings on Craigslist from people offering free rides or, in some cases, paying seniors to come to vaccine appointments.

A Craigslist user who claimed he was “a mother of two daughters and a teacher” made an offer to accompany a senior in Northampton. This listing was later removed.

“Free: I will help anyone 75 years or older make a vaccine appointment and give them a free ride,” the user wrote. “I have a clean car and I always wear an N95 mask. Free.”

Another poster from the Boston area said they were willing to pay $ 275 to help someone vaccinate.

“As if I was helping someone; I would get the vaccine too, ”the person wrote. “I have a car, I am 27 years old and I like to help everyone!”

A post in the Greenfield area offered to drive two people to an appointment at the same time in exchange for $ 100, which was paid to each senior.

“We bring you and your partner with us – earn 200 in a day if we get you to be vaccinated – ideally we do both at the same time,” the publication says.

Some also offer to help seniors schedule their vaccination appointments online – a process that requires the use of sensitive information such as a government-issued ID or driver’s license.

“Hi, I am a responsible 30 year old man and I would love to help any MA resident over 75 plan their COVID-19 vaccine,” wrote one user. “I’ll plan the vaccine for you and drive you to the vaccination site. That way I can get the vaccine at the same time. We are happy to help anyone over 75 who needs help setting up the appointment and the journey. “

Those eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination can use the state’s new appointment finder search tool available at vaxfinder.mass.gov and via mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine.

Haley Lerner is an intern at GBH News’ Beat the Press.

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