Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday that the Fenway Park mass vaccination site will close March 27 and will be replaced by a new mass vaccination site at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood.
"To have ballplayers in the park at the same time you have people in the park for different purposes we just thought was a little more complicated than we thought was appropriate for this, and the Hynes is available and it's not that far away," the governor said.
"From our point of view, the Hynes was a more permanent solution we could use on a go-forward basis," he added. "The bottom line was the fundamental purpose of Fenway Park is to provide a place to practice and play baseball."
The Hynes Convention Center mass vaccination site will be open and begin accepting appointments on March 18, Baker said, so there will be an overlap between its opening and the closure of the Fenway site.
The Boston Red Sox are scheduled to start the 2021 season at home on April 1 against the Baltimore Orioles.
"We're grateful to Fenway, the Red Sox and CIC Health for their incredible work operating this site," Baker said.
Over 25,000 vaccinations have already been administered at Fenway, and by the end of the month, that number is expected to be over 55,000.
Baseball fans enjoyed the opportunity to get vaccinated at the historic ballpark.
Suzanne Glover got her second vaccine dose at Fenway Thursday afternoon.
"It's so cool to be in that building," said the Barnstable resident. "I took a nice picture of myself with the Green Monster."
Jesse Nicole got her first vaccine at the ballpark. She'll be back in three weeks for the second.
"I will, I guess, be one of the last people to get their second shot here," said the Somerville resident.
The Hynes mass vaccination site will ramp up to administer the same number of vaccines as Fenway -- about 1,500 a day. If the supply of vaccine increases, it will have the ability to scale up to more than 5,000 shots a day.
Baker spoke Thursday after touring a vaccination site for seniors at the Lawrence Housing Authority.
The governor's announcement was made the same day far fewer new appointments for first doses were made available than has become customary on Thursday. Baker said the state is on track to administer 250,000 doses next week, but only 12,000 new appointments were made available due to the high volume of second dose shots already scheduled and about 13,000 appointments made for seniors through the state's call center that limited the availability online.
"I know that remains frustrating for everybody who's involved who couldn't get an appointment booked this week," the governor said.
Baker said 1 million people will be eligible for vaccinations next week as the shots become available to teachers, school staff and child care workers, but due to the continue limited supply of about 150,000 doses a week the governor said the state would not be diverting any doses specifically for teachers and school staff.
The governor has faced criticism in recent weeks for the state's rocky vaccine rollout -- including a glitchy state vaccine website that crashed just as shots were being made available to those 65 or older and those with certain medical conditions. The governor has urged patience, saying the state can only provide a limited number of appointments until more vaccines are made available by the federal government.
On Wednesday, Baker announced that Massachusetts teachers will be eligible to register for a coronavirus vaccine starting March 11.
The Republican governor’s announcement came a day after President Joe Biden urged states to prioritize vaccinations for teachers, and the same day retail pharmacy locations that had been offering vaccinations announced that they would start accepting signups from teachers.
Baker said the state’s move would make about 400,000 educators, child care workers, and school staffers eligible for a vaccine. He said because vaccination supply remains limited, it may take some time to book an appointment.
“The fact remains, we are still only going to get about 150,000 first doses every week. We’d like everybody to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, but it will take time to move the current folks who are left in the 65-plus and two comorbidities categories, who want to get vaccinated, through the system, as well as the 400,000 educators who would be part of this group,” Baker said.
Major teachers’ unions had been pressuring Baker’s administration to move teachers higher on the state’s vaccination prioritization list, especially since state education officials announced plans to get all districts to reopen elementary schools for full-time, in-person learning in April.
Merrie Najimy, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said the decision helps pave the way for a return to full, in-person learning.
“It’s welcome news that the governor is finally with the program,” Najimy said. “This is a victory for the students, school employees and the entire education community.”
Massachusetts has administered about 1.2 million first doses and 1.8 million total vaccines, state health officials say.