The public got its first glimpse of the mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Fenway Park, Friday amid frustration over the state's vaccination process.
A select few were administered doses of the vaccine at the iconic park as part of a soft launch Friday before the site officially opens Monday. Online registration for residents 75 and older to get shots at the site opened Thursday.
"I can't wait until everyone's vaccinated," said Brookline therapist Miriam Ervin, who got the vaccine at Fenway on Friday. "I can't wait to see my parents again, I can't wait to travel again. I feel, for the first time, so relieved that I'm going to get back to normal, so it feels good."
At the start, up to 500 people will be vaccinated per day at Fenway. Operations will gradually ramp up to 1,250 per day as the Massachusetts coronavirus vaccine rollout plan continues.
“Throughout its history, Fenway Park has been a gathering place for more than just baseball, and we are honored to now open our gates as a safe location in the city of Boston for our community to receive the COVID-19 vaccination,” Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy said earlier this week.
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Appointments must be booked in advance. Once people arrive, they'll be given a health assessment, answer some questions, and then get the dose.
After being vaccinated, recipients have to stick around for at least 15 minutes to make sure they're not having any adverse reaction.
"I just want to do my part to stop the spread and protect other people," said Lisandra Pabon, a personal care assistant from Cambridge who got the vaccine at Fenway. "I'm not able to just stay home, indoors, and work from home, I have to put myself at risk every day."
People getting vaccinated will get a pin, and they can chat with Red Sox mascot Wally. They can also take a peek at the ballpark.
And once the field starts seeing action again, there's a plan in the works to keep Fenway open as a vaccination site if it's still needed.
"If we are here giving shots on April 1," said Red Sox Senior Vice President Sarah McKenna, "and if we are playing baseball that day, I promise you there are people here who will move and we will make that work, if we have fans, we'll make it work … there's no other option."
Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state's second large-scale vaccination site last Tuesday, joining Gillette Stadium under the operation of Cambridge-based health tech company CIC Health in a large partnership with other health and logistics companies.
Amid harsh criticism of the state's vaccination process, Baker Thursday announced that more than 35,000 new COVID-19 vaccination appointments would go live at sites across the state, but added that many of them have already been booked.
The new appointments included 20,000 at the Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium mass vaccination sites, he said, all of which are already spoken for.
Another 15,000 vaccination appointments were added at mass vaccination sites in Danvers and Springfield, and those were still in the process of being booked as of midday Thursday.
Baker said tens of thousands of new appointments will open up at the mass vaccination sites each Thursday, and smaller vaccination sites at CVS, Walgreens, Price Chopper and community health centers will post them more frequently but will have fewer slots to fill to begin with.
Baker this week has sought to defend the state's vaccination plan despite hiccups in the rollout process, saying high demand is outstripping the state's supply of doses. The governor urged patience until federal authorities can provide a steadier supply of vaccines.
Many residents have complained about the state's vaccination website, saying it is difficult to navigate, especially for senior citizens.
More Coronavirus Vaccine Coverage in Mass.
Massachusetts has fallen behind every other New England state in vaccinations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.