Coronavirus

Mass Vaccination Site Opens in Dartmouth

A new mass vaccination site opened Wednesday amid ongoing controversy over the rollout in Massachusetts

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The sixth mass vaccination site in Massachusetts, and the first in the southeastern part of the state, opened Wednesday at a former Circuit City in Dartmouth.

This site, open to all eligible residents, will begin administering 500 doses per day and gradually increase to over 2,000 doses daily over the course of several weeks. Wednesday was a soft launch, but, starting Thursday, the site will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.

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The old Circuit City joins the Natick Mall, Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, the DoubleTree in Danvers and the Eastfield Mall in Springfield as the mass vaccination sites open in the state thus far. 

Before Wednesday, the closest mass vaccination site for those who live in southeastern Massachusetts had been about an hour away.

About 300 people are expected to get their vaccine at the new site in Dartmouth on Wednesday.

Eligible residents were able to begin booking appointments online for the Dartmouth site on Feb.18, but many have struggled with the sign-up process.

People who are eligible for the vaccine can go to the site for help booking an appointment, said Blake Lackey, director of operations for Curative.

Curative, the provider running the site, was founded in 2020 with the intention of developing a new sepsis test. The company decided to pivot to creating a scalable COVID-19 testing process when the pandemic escalated in March 2020, according to the website.

Many people are still struggling to sign up for coronavirus vaccinations because of glitches on the Massachusetts website and a lack of appointments.

For seniors in the area, the vaccine means one step closer to normalcy.

“We like to go to Foxwoods but we haven’t been there in a year. I just hope this opens the gate for more freedom,” said Steve Fitzgerald of Somerset.

The latest hiccup occurred last week when the Massachusetts Vaxfinder signup website crashed as one million more people became eligible to get vaccinated. That website cost the state nearly a half a million dollars.

"Last week it was a bad user experience, which we own," Gov. Charlie Baker said at a Tuesday press conference. "We need to do better."

Baker is due to testify before the Legislature's COVID-19 and Emergency Management and Preparedness Committee Thursday at an oversight hearing probing the state's beleaguered vaccine rollout.

State Sen. Diana Dizoglio, D-Methuen, is calling for an audit after she says the Baker administration failed to give her answers.

"Why did they choose to go with certain pharmacies and not others? Why did they choose to go with these mass vaccination sites?" "I think it's incumbent on us to ask why."

Baker urged residents to be patient Tuesday, promising that everyone will get vaccinated -- in time.

"Everybody can't get vaccinated at once because we don't have enough supply," Baker said. "I think the big challenge we face in terms of dosing more people is 100% a function of how much vaccine we get from the feds."

The problem, according to Baker, is that the state is only receiving about 130,000 doses per week as 1 million new people became eligible for the vaccine last week. This issue is not unique to Massachusetts, Baker added.

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