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Springfield Area Will Have Mass COVID-19 Vaccination Site, Says Mayor Sarno

Moderna vaccine
Courtesy of Rockland County government

According to local officials, Massachusetts is planning to stand up a mass COVID-19 vaccination site in the greater Springfield area. 

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he was told by the Baker administration over the weekend that that the state is planning to open a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site in the region, but Sarno said he would defer to the governor to make the announcement.

"Springfield will have a mass vaccination site announced very shortly and we appreciate that from Gov. Baker and  Lt. Gov. Polito and I'll let them detail it more, " said Sarno at his weekly COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.

The first mass vaccination site in Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium opened Monday.

Governor Charlie Baker said last week the state is in discussions with other venue owners to open additional locations for mass vaccinations.

The Gillette site will eventually have the capacity to administer 5,000 doses of vaccine a day.

Massachusetts is in the first phase of a vaccine rollout plan that foresees most of the state’s 4 million people being vaccinated by this summer.  Among those currently eligible for the vaccine are frontline healthcare workers, residents of long term care facilities, first responders and as of this week staff and residents of congregate housing such as shelters and jails.

The state has received about 660,000 doses of vaccine and more than 300,000 doses have been administered.  Some of the vaccine is being held back for required second shots.

Springfield’s health department administered 920 doses last week to first responders, according to the city’s Commissioner of Health and Human Services Helen Caulton-Harris. She said the city is dispensing the vaccine as expeditiously as possible.

"Everyone wants to get the vaccine in arms and we are all working to do that," said Caulton-Harris.

Dr. Robert Roose, Chief Medical Officer at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield said Massachusetts is in a race against time to get people inoculated before a much more contagious strain of the coronavirus spreads.

"The cautiously positive news from the last week is that it does appear we are starting to see a flattening of this latest peak," said Roose.  He noted that the one week average of new daily cases is down along with the positive test rate and the number of hospilizations for COVID-19.

Roose said all the hospitals in western Massachusetts still have capacity to care for additional COVID cases.

"While our hospitilized cases remain high, we are managing very well," said Roose. "We are delivering all types of care and doing it safely."

Statewide, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is at 2,200, which is about 100 fewer hospitalized patients than a week ago.  

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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