Trading Bats for Boosters: Fenway Park Reopens as COVID Vaccine Site

Officials say the new site will be able to administer 1,300 vaccines each day

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It was re-opening day at Fenway Park in Boston Thursday as the ballpark transformed once again into a vaccination site.

While the race is on to distribute booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, the site also welcomed a number of people who were rolling up their sleeves for the first time. Experts say the surge in cases is convincing some hold-outs.

After months of being eligible to get the shot, Alvaro Martinez showed up to get his first dose on Thursday. He said he was initially hesitant, but after seeing a few family members get sick and testing positive himself, he decided to get the shot. He is also getting ready to welcome his first child.

"As a new father, I just didn't want to risk it," he said. "I want to be safe when he is born."

George Stoddart also showed up to the ballpark to get his first dose. After being on the fence for a while, he said it was a combination of knowing people who died and his restaurant requiring the shot that finally convinced him.

The goal is to administer 1,300 shots a day at the Fenway clinic.

"I don't like needles, and I was worried about side effects, but my supervisor's family member just passed away yesterday. She kept pushing me to do it," Stoddart said.

Officials say 1,300 vaccines can be given out each day at the Fenway Park site.

The head of Cataldo Ambulance, which is running this vaccination site and others, said they noticed an uptick in boosters and first-timers starting in December. Whether it's the spread of omicron or the appeal of sites like Fenway, officials hope that trend continues.

"If this site being open again can stimulate those unvaccinated to get the vaccine, then it was worth it. Even if it's 100 people over the course of the time we're here, it was worth it," said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer for Cataldo Ambulance.

Some parents who had held off decided not to wait any longer, bringing their children to Fenway Thursday.

"We were a little bit hesitant, but after the surge that we're experiencing now, we definitely wanted to get here and get it over with," said Meghan Riley, who brought her 5-year old to get his first shot at Fenway.

The home of the Boston Red Sox was previously used as a vaccination site last year, and the state is using it again in an attempt to curb the spike in COVID-19 cases. The state also opened clinics in Roxbury, Lynn and Taunton this week, locations that can handle around 400 people a day.

Fenway will be a walk-in clinic, but appointments can also be made through Vaccines are for those ages 5 and up.

“This was super easy, it took me probably five minutes,” said Emylee Patenaude, who was getting a booster Thursday morning.

Some said it has been near impossible to schedule an appointment at other locations.

Officials expect a mass booster shot site at Fenway to be up and running in a couple of weeks as the city seeks to counter the spread of the omicron variant.

Already, there are more than 1,000 locations across the state providing COVID-19 vaccines. On Wednesday, the state opened new vaccine clinics in Roxbury and Lynn.

Another vaccine clinic in Taunton that will be able to accommodate 400 people a day also opened Thursday.

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