BROOKLINE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Brookline officials are urging seniors to avoid connecting with any strangers offering to serve as "companions" during COVID-19 vaccines so they can get a vaccine as well.
Under new state rules, people who are identified as companions of individuals age 75 and over are now permitted to accompany those seniors to appointments at state-run COVID-19 vaccination sites, and be vaccinated as well.
Ruthann Dobek, Director of the Council on Aging said the town of Brookline has "become aware of instances" in which otherwise ineligible individuals are offering rides, to help with making appointments, and monetary compensation to seniors in order to get vaccinated.
"While some of these offers may be well-intentioned, we strongly recommend that seniors utilize official resources in order to obtain help making and getting to vaccine appointments, rather than taking offers from unknown people," Dobek said. "We have a rigorous protocol for screening volunteers that must be followed."
Dobek said the state’s new protocol does offer relief for family members and other caregivers to bring their loved ones to state-run sites.
"Ultimately, the state's vaccine timeline was developed to ensure those most in need are immunized first," she said. "It's inappropriate for younger, otherwise healthy people to attempt to 'jump the line' by misrepresenting themselves as companions of those who are eligible."
Older adults in need of transportation to vaccination appointments and other support regarding the vaccine are encouraged to call the Senior Center at 617-730-2770, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents in need of additional support related to obtaining the vaccine, such as making an appointment or learning more about where they can be vaccinated, are urged to call either the Brookline COVID-19 Call Center at 617-879-5636 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brookline residents can express interest in being vaccinated by filling out the form here.
Seniors may also seek help from the state's 211 hotline for those 75 and over by dialing 2-1-1 and selecting the prompt for "Help Scheduling a Vaccine Appointment." The hotline is only available for residents 75 and older without internet access or who otherwise cannot use the appointment website, and will take calls Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Callers will be able to speak with a representative who will help them find a nearby vaccination location and make an appointment.
The nearest mass vaccination sites to Brookline are at Fenway Park, 4 Jersey St., Boston, and at the Reggie Lewis Center, 1350 Tremont St., Roxbury. Translators will be available to assist as well.
Dobek said older residents are also encouraged to be mindful of potential scams tied to the pandemic, including vaccines. There is no cost to patients to receive the vaccination, so residents should disregard any offers to provide the vaccine in exchange for a fee.
"In general, you should never provide personal information to anyone who calls you unsolicited," Dobek said, "including your name, date of birth, social security number, bank account numbers, driver's license number, nor anything else that could be used to compromise your identity."
Written by Brit Smith
(Photo: Getty Images)