Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium pitched as Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccination sites as Quincy police, fire get 1st shots

Quincy firefighters and police officers became some of the first emergency responders in Massachusetts to receive coronavirus vaccines this week as the state pitches Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium as potential mass vaccination sites.
Sixty Quincy first responders — 30 police officers and 30 firefighters — got their first shots on New Year’s Eve through a partnership with Manet Community Health Center that ensured any extra doses provided by the state during its initial rollout would go to local emergency responders. A second group will receive vaccines next week, city officials said.
“This came just at the right time,” Quincy firefighters union President Tom Bowes said.
Manet won’t have enough doses after vaccinating its health care workers to immunize the roughly 500 police and firefighters in Quincy. But Bowes said he felt “very fortunate” that Quincy’s finest were given the opportunity. And Christopher Walker, chief of staff to Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, called it “a light at the end of this tunnel” for emergency responders who’ve spent nearly a year on the front lines of the pandemic.
Yet most first responders in Massachusetts will have to wait until at least mid-January to receive their vaccines.
“We’re obviously very happy that firefighters are finally getting vaccinated,” Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts President Richard MacKinnon Jr. said. “But now you have firefighters in other parts of the state saying ‘How did that happen?’”
First responders received third priority in Phase One of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, behind health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. But MacKinnon said information has been hard to come by from the state about when exactly his 12,000 members will get jabbed.
MacKinnon was among the group of first responder community leaders and members of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security who met with state health officials on Thursday to review draft plans for getting shots into the arms of firefighters, police and paramedics.
The state laid out three options — two that would involve using local or regional boards of health to distribute the vaccines, and one that would establish five mass vaccination sites across the commonwealth, including potentially at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium and the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield, MacKinnon said.
Local boards of health are on track to begin vaccinating first responders on Jan. 11, while the first mass vaccination sites are expected to open to emergency responders on Jan. 18, MacKinnon said.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” MacKinnon said Friday. “But we kind of wish we were involved in the planning stages because I think we could have maybe offered other viable solutions, even with vaccinating ourselves.”
MacKinnon said there are more than 7,000 paramedics and emergency medical technicians who could be tapped to vaccinate firefighters to help boards of health “overwhelmed” by contact tracing and other critical tasks.
“We have the infrastructure to do it,” he said. “We just need the OK from the state.”

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