No long lines, less time waiting for those scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccine at Eastfield Mall Wednesday

Hampden County

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Major improvements to the Eastfield Mall vaccination site are coming for those who have an appointment since they can now wait inside before receiving their shot.

On Tuesday, hundreds were waiting outside for hours to get the vaccine. On Wednesday, people were in and out in less than a half-hour.

“It’s better than what I anticipated what it was going to be,” said a local resident.

There was no line outside the Eastfield mall vaccination site on Wednesday as new changes were implemented allowing those with an appointment to wait inside the mall before receiving their shot.

“In anticipation of what we were seeing on the news and what she experienced, we came with snacks and water anticipating we would have a long wait and it was absolutely wonderful. My appointment was at 10 and I walked right in,” said Joyce Jutkus of Westfield.

The new changes come after hundreds of senior citizens were waiting outside in the snow and cold for hours.

More staff was also added to help limit wait times, and the National Guard was called in to help assist.

“I collaborated with the folks at Curative and we decided to open up the doors from the common area of the mall to this building. So beginning today, I think things will be a lot smoother and no one will have to be outside whatsoever,” said Property Manager Dave Thompson.

State Senator Eric Lesser toured the vaccination site on Wednesday after the new changes went into place.

“When I went through it looked to be going very smoothly. People seemed to be very happy with the experience,” said Lesser.

However, he said more needs to be done to prevent long wait times and people standing in the cold from happening again.

“The Governor needs to make this site a bigger priority and they need to provide more resources to make the process easier for people,” said Lesser.

Lesser also noted that the state should take responsibility for the long wait times and is calling on Governor Charlie Baker to come to Springfield and visit western Massachusetts’ only mass vaccination site.

There are two new mass COVID-19 vaccination sites opening in the state later this month, a site in Natick will open February 22 and a site in Dartmouth will open on February 24.

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