West Springfield Mayor continues to push for Big E vaccination site despite first proposal rejection

Coronavirus Local Impact

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The towns of Granville and Tolland have joined the regional group that is providing the resources necessary to run a regional COVID-19 vaccination site at the Big E in West Springfield.

West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt told 22News that the site planned for The Big E Fairgrounds didn’t make the first round of regional vaccination clinics. However, he isn’t giving up the fight yet.

“We’re working on adjusting hours and making sure it is more accessible and reminding them that we are ready to go, we are ready to make this thing a reality and make it happen. We are going to keep fixing and fine-tuning our plan because we do think this is what is best for western Massachusetts,” said Mayor Reichelt.

He is confident that the Big E fairgrounds does have the capacity to vaccinate more than 750 people a day saying that will lessen the burden at the mass vaccination site at the Eastfield Mall in neighboring Springfield.

The original proposal sent to 22News from West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, states that the town believes that a site at the Big E would be ideal due to its location. It would be more accessible to the hilltowns by its closeness to Route 20 and Route 57 but it would also be more accessible to residents of Springfield who currently only have the option of the one mass vaccination site located at Eastfield Mall.

Reichelt believes it would specifically benefit residents of the North and South Ends of Springfield because there is a direct bus route to the Big E site, whereas the Eastfield Mall site requires two different bus routes and a change of buses for those residents.

Reichelt said they have also heard from many of their residents that they would prefer to wait for a vaccine to be administered by a local group than to go to the Eastfield Mall location.

Agawam, Westfield, Southwick, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and now Granville and Tolland are all collaborating on this proposal.

The mayor said he’s hopeful that with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being approved, they could potentially open their site sometime in the near future.

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