The city of Lawrence has beaten the state to the punch, launching a call center on Wednesday afternoon where eligible resident can now schedule an appointment for a COVID vaccine by phone.

“Whether the state pursued it or not we were going to do it,” said Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez. “Simply because we believe that all residents in the city of Lawrence should have accessibility to the vaccine.”

The call center, housed in the Lawrence Public Library, will operate weekdays from 3 - 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Callers can leave a message in the off hours and will receive a call back. Vasquez said the current staff of 10 operators, who can field calls in English and Spanish, will be increased to 30 “over the next couple of days.”

“The intention of the call center is to be able to ensure that the digital divide that exists among many Lawrence residents as well as the elderly population in our city gets resolved,” said Vasquez. “This is especially important for our population that is 75 and older.”

Nearby states including Vermont and New York already have statewide phone lines where eligible residents can schedule a vaccination appointment. Governor Charlie Baker confirmed on Wednesday that the state plans to launch its own phone line sometimes this week.

The details of precisely when that will roll out, how it will work, and whether calls will be fielded in languages other than English remain open questions. Vasquez declined to address whether Lawrence’s efforts might be coordinated with the state once its call line is up and running, but made it clear that it will continue to be an option for residents there for the foreseeable future.

“The city of Lawrence will continue with this effort as long as it’s necessary for our residents,” he said.

Lawrence residents can reach the call line at 978-620-3330.