Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccine companion rule gets abused by some

The rule was intended to boost vaccine uptake among older adults

Some people in Massachusetts are offering rides and even money for a chance to take advantage of a state rule that allows those who accompany people age 75 and older to a coronavirus vaccination appointment to get a shot at the same time.

But the rash of online ads from people looking to cut the vaccination line drew a stern rebuke from Gov. Charlie Baker, who warned against offers of help from complete strangers.

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"If you’re contacted by somebody soliciting to take you to a site, please report it to the authorities," Baker said on Thursday.

Seniors should only accept help from soneone they trust, he said. Many senior centers in the state are offering help.

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Some officials called on the Republican governor to put the vaccine companion program on hold.

"While it may have been well-meaning, it took less than 24 hours for this new state policy to be abused," Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell said in a statement.

Democratic State Rep. Steve Owens said a group of lawmakers have urged Baker to pause the program, noting that he saw an ad from someone offering $250 to drive an eligible resident to a vaccination site.