WORDS + PHOTOS BY JORDAN FRIAS
“It’s always great being here at Fenway, maybe for a different reason it would be better.”
Starting this week, America’s oldest ballpark will serve as Boston’s first mass vaccination site to inoculate residents against COVID-19.
Last week, Fenway Park got the greenlight from the state to allow vaccinations for the start of Phase Two of its vaccine rollout plan.
CIC Health, the Cambridge-based health tech company that’s been running vaccinations at the home of the Patriots in Foxboro, was selected by the state to run the venue, according to Rodrigo Martinez, the company’s chief marketing officer.
The site will begin injecting 500 people per day with the Pfizer vaccine and then ramp up to 1,000. Martinez said the goal is to get to 1,250 per day.
Those with appointments will be asked to show up to Gate A on Jersey Street, formerly known as Yawkey Way, and exit through Gate E on Lansdowne Street.
The actual vaccination process should take no longer than 3 to 4 minutes, or 5 minutes tops, according to Martinez.
Unlike Moderna, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine must be stored in freezing cold temperatures. Like Moderna, a second dose is required. The CDC recommends 21 days or three weeks before getting a second dose.
CIC Health and the Red Sox said Fenway was chosen as a large-scale vaccination site due to its proximity to public transit and to reach “urban and diverse populations hardest hit by the pandemic,” according to a joint statement.
The state said the plan is to keep the site open through the beginning of baseball season in early April. A longer-term vaccination site will then be identified by the city.
The Reggie Lewis Center by Roxbury Community College is expected to open soon as well.
On Thursday and Friday, a soft launch at the Fenway site took place and approximately 250 people were inoculated.
In addition to the vaccination areas inside of the stadium, there are observation areas where people will be required to sit for at least 15 minutes after receiving their shot. Those at-risk of having an allergic reaction to the vaccine will be monitored for 30 minutes, Martinez said.
One of the areas open to the press on Thursday during the soft launch was on the second floor near third base. There, numbers were called while staff stood behind plexiglass and the bar area to prepare their doses.
SEIU 1199 members registered for their vaccine doses during the soft launch. Lisandra Pabon of Cambridge was among them and received her vaccine on Friday.
Pabon, 38, a personal care attendant, said her union rep reached out to her two days earlier and told her some appointments were available. She took an Uber to her appointment, and said it took her 10 to 15 minutes to complete the process.
Asked about the festive baseball backdrop behind them, Pabon said she found it a bit “weird” being at Fenway for her shot, but said the process was “pretty simple,” and “easier than expected.”
“I think this will be a big help to have it here,” she said of the location. “It’s always great being here at Fenway, maybe for a different reason it would be better.”
Pabon’s colleague Thomas Darcy, 40, another personal care attendant with SEIU, was less impressed by the experience.
“It was colder, I would have much rather been somewhere warmer,” Darcy said. Despite the process being “super efficient” and everybody being “super nice,” he said he would have preferred a fully indoor convention center.
“To be honest, I think Fenway is just for advertisement … I want to see a ball game, I don’t want to get vaccines,” he said.
“This is why we’re doing it,” Pabon said. “So we can get back to normal life and be here watching the games, be with our families again.”