Mass. to open its 1st mass vaccination site at Gillette Stadium
First responders can begin receiving their shots at the stadium on Monday; Gov. Charlie Baker hopes to build up distribution to 5,000 shots per day
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Gillette Stadium will become the state's first mass injection site when it opens on Thursday, laying out a game plan to massively scale-up a coronavirus vaccine rollout that has so far been "bumpy" and slow as cases continue to surge.
"This is a huge step forward in our fight and we are progressing through our vaccine plan as we hoped we would," Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday during a press conference at the Worcester Senior Center, which this week transformed into a vaccination site for first responders.
The home of the New England Patriots will start out administering 300 vaccines per day and will build up to 5,000 per day "and potentially much bigger numbers than that over time," Baker said.
CIC Health will operate the Gillette site with Brigham and Women's Hospital and Fallon Ambulance Service support.
Staff running the Gillette injection site are first in line for shots this week, followed by first responders on Monday.
The state's 45,000 police, firefighters and EMS personnel began getting their shots en masse this week as the state set up 119 vaccination sites.
Baker said there has been an "overwhelmingly positive response" so far from police, firefighters and the like trying to get vaccinated.
"The challenge, we hope, will be keeping up with the demand," Baker said.
Ultimately, the site's success will depend on its supply of vaccines. Baker said the state's three-phase vaccination plan, which "focuses on those populations that are most at risk of COVID-19" is on track. Vaccines are expected to become available to the general public sometime in April.
Describing a "bumpy" rollout of the vaccine distribution plan that is now nearly a month old, Baker said the state has administered 209,722 of the 470,100 doses of COVID-19 vaccine received.
The mass injection sites will play a key roll as the state ramps up distribution once the supply chain catches up with demand. So far, the state has made it the third priority group under Phase 1 of the state's three-phase plan. Inmates and people living in homeless shelters and other congregate-care facilities are up next and expected to start getting their shots "in the coming days," Baker said.
The Gillette injection site is the first of three anticipated mass vaccination sites that will eventually open up around the state, according to the Baker administration. Fenway Park and the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield have also been pitched as potential vaccination sites.
But Baker said the state isn't in any rush to plow ahead with opening up mass vaccination sites until they know they'll have the doses to distribute.
"The last thing we want to do is open up a whole bunch of sites and have a whole bunch of people there and not have vaccine available to actually serve people," Baker said.
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