Who is eligible?

Everyone age 16 or older who lives, works or studies in Massachusetts is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccines are free for everyone, regardless of insurance status, and will not impact your immigration status. Find a more detailed eligibility list here.

How do I get an appointment?

New appointment announcements for the county are posted at least 6 hours in advance at getvaccinatedberkshires.org. Clinics often are updated late in the week or over the weekend, when county vaccine officials get their weekly allocations from the state.

Once you know when appointments will open up, you can find them directly at maimmunizations.org. Make sure to open up the website half an hour or more before the time when appointments are scheduled to open. 

The easiest way to find a location is to search by the site name, or part of its name. (You can enter "Elizabeth" for the North Adams site, "Berkshire" for the Pittsfield site and "DuBois" for the Great Barrington site.) 

Local officials say that, once you are able to make an appointment, the software will save your place in line for 25 minutes while you enter your personal information. To speed up the process, have your insurance details on hand before going to register.

Check mass.gov/covidvaccinemap to see which local pharmacies and other providers are giving vaccines. You may be able to find pharmacy appointments at vaxfinder.mass.gov. While pharmacies often have fewer appointments and have experienced some registration hiccups, many county residents have successfully made first and second dose appointments this way.

I got a clinic link forwarded to me via email. Should I sign up?

Probably not. 

There are separate registration processes for first and second dose clinics. First dose clinics show up on maimmunizations.org, while second dose clinic links go out directly via email.

If you register through an emailed link, even if that link takes you to maimmunizations.org, there is a very high likelihood that you are signing up for a second dose clinic. Organizers have asked residents not to use private links to sign up.

You will eventually get an email telling you that your appointment is cancelled, but it may take some time, and you will lose the opportunity to sign up for a valid slot.

How do you know if it's a second dose clinic? Remember that local coordinators usually open just 1 week worth of first dose slots. A clinic scheduled for two weeks out, therefore, is probably a second dose clinic.

If you have made an appointment at a second dose clinic, coordinators urge you to cancel to keep those slots open for people who need their second dose.

If you are unsure whether you have signed up for a first or second dose clinic, call your local council on aging.

I got my first dose, but I haven't received a registration link for my second yet.

Don't worry! Second dose clinic links typically go out shortly after the first dose clinic but may take more time. If you are within five days of your second dose date with no word on a clinic, call your local council on aging. Before that, be patient.

Will I need to show proof of residency?

You will need to bring ID to show that you are the same person who made the appointment but you will not need to show proof of residence in Massachusetts. Second homeowners and part-time residents are eligible, and you will not be asked to show that you live here.

Which vaccine should I get?

You will be able to see which type of vaccine you are getting before you complete the sign-up process, but local, state and federal health officials have discouraged vaccine shopping. Currently, however, Massachusetts has paused delivery of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, on guidance from the federal government.

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All three vaccine authorized in the U.S. prevented 100 percent of hospitalizations and deaths in clinical trials that enrolled tens of thousands of people. That means, once immunity kicked in, no one who was vaccinated with any of the vaccines had to be hospitalized for COVID-19.

What if I can’t get to a site?

If you are a Berkshire County resident with a disability, you can reach out to AdLib, a Pittsfield-based nonprofit that is offering no-cost transportation to vaccination sites in collaboration with County Rainbow Taxi. Call 413-281-7328, and the company will give your name to County Rainbow Taxi. This is only for residents with disabilities.

Other residents with transportation or registration issues can call Berkshire Mutual Aid at 413-591-0611 or email them at HelpingBerkshiresVaccinate@gmail.com. Some councils on aging across the county can also help with transportation.

What should I bring to and expect from my appointment?

Bring identification and your self-attestation form. Wear a short-sleeve shirt or loose-fitting sleeves. Expect any lines to move quickly, as they have at previous clinics. Local coordinators have asked recipients not to arrive more than 10 minutes early, especially those with morning appointments, to avoid creating lines.

There will be wheelchairs available, chairs to wait in and greeters helping you navigate through the process. You will be asked to wait 15 minutes after the shot, or 30 minutes for people with a history of severe anaphylaxis, at socially-distanced stations.

Where are the clinics? 

The county’s public clinics are: 

St. Elizabeth’s Church, 70 Marshall Street, North Adams

Berkshire Community College Field House, West Street, Pittsfield

W.E.B. Du Bois Regional Middle School, Monument Valley Road, Great Barrington

Local pharmacies also offer vaccinations and can be found at mass.gov/covidvaccinemap, along with clinics available outside of Berkshire County.

Why is there no "mass vaccination site" in the Berkshires?

"Mass vaccination" is a designation given to large-scale clinics operated by the state. The Berkshires have large-scale, general sites that are run by local coordinators and open to anyone in the state, so they function similarly. Local coordinators say capacity to deliver doses is not an issue at the moment. The Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative currently has the capacity to give upwards of 3,000 first doses each day across its three sites – if supplies became available. 

Does the pre-registration system apply in Berkshire County?

No. Pre-registration is only allowed at state-run mass vaccination sites, including the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, and several other clinics. Pre-registration is expected to be available for local sites at some point in April.

 I have more questions, where should I go?

Visit getvaccinatedberkshires.org or mass.gov/covidvaccine for more details. You can also email questions to fparis@berkshireeagle.com.

The following information sources also are available:

• The city of Pittsfield is providing access by phone to regular updates about access to the vaccine in the city and in Berkshire County. A recorded message is posted at 413-449-5575.

• A statewide call center is available to help people schedule vaccination appointments. The hours for the call line are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The help line is available by calling 2-1-1.

Who is eligible? How will I know when new appointments are posted? How long will it take us to get through the current part of Phase Two? What counts as a comorbidity? Will I need to show proof that I am eligible? What if I can’t get to a site? and more.

Francesca Paris covers North Adams for The Berkshire Eagle. A California native and Williams College alumna, she has worked at NPR in Washington, D.C. and WBUR in Boston, as a news reporter, producer and editor. Find her on Twitter at @fparises.