SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts’ only mass vaccination site is closing Tuesday as the state changes its methods of reaching unvaccinated residents.
The last residents received their COVID doses at the Eastfield Mall vaccination site Tuesday as it closes for good.
“Instead of them coming to us, now we want to come to them,” said Curative Director of Nursing Karyn Rossacci.
The site, located at the former Macy’s store at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, opened in February when supply was scarce, eligibility was limited, and demand was very high. Now that about 70% of Massachusetts residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose (and 62% are fully vaccinated), the demand has dropped substantially, while the number of locations that are offering vaccinations has increased dramatically. Since the site’s opening they’ve administered more than 150,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
At the time the Eastfield Mall site opened, it was one of only seven mass vaccination sites across the state. There are now about 900 locations across the state where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The closing of the state’s mass vaccination sites marks a change in strategy for Massachusetts health officials. The state is now focusing on increasing targeted community-based vaccine efforts to reach unvaccinated residents, instead of mass sites.
“Now we’re getting people who are a little bit more hesitant to come in or who weren’t jumping on the bandwagon at first. and every one of those people who come in it’s great because these are people who didn’t want to get it right away but something has changed their minds,” said Jenneka Reynolds, Community Relations Director at Curative.
In order to reach those who have still not been vaccinated, the state’s COVID Command Center is sending text and phone messages to residents in disproportionally-impacted communities, reminding people of the importance of getting a vaccine.
Collectively, the state’s mass vaccination sites administered more than 1.7 million doses of vaccine. The Eastfield Mall site will be the second-to-last mass vaccination site to shut down. The only remaining location, at the former Circuit City store in Dartmouth, will close for good on July 13.