SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Governor Charlie Baker announced a change to the state's vaccination plan moving forward taking the focus away from the mass vaccination sites.
The Eastfield Mall has been the center of attention for many getting their COVID-19 shots here in western Mass., but that will soon change as the state shifts gears a move that should make vaccines more readily available to Springfield residents.
Springfield's Mayor Domenic Sarno with a strong message for city residents to get vaccinated.
“Springfield is in the red; we cannot be lax. The vaccinations are there for you,” Sarno said.
As a whole, Springfield vaccine rates are significantly lower than the rest of the state.
32 percent of Springfield residents have had one dose of the vaccine, compared to 52.9 percent statewide. Slightly more than 20 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, which is almost 15 percent lower than the state average.
Governor Charlie Baker announced Monday the state will begin ramping down operations at four of the seven mass vaccination sites in June.
Including Gillette Stadium, Hynes Convention Center, Doubletree in Danvers, and the Natick Mall.
But at this point, there's no plan to make changes at the Eastfield Mall. We spoke to Dr. Sly Douglas with Curative, the company overseeing the vaccine program at the mall, said demand is still sky-high.
“We’re actually increasing our productivity. We started out with maybe 500, and we’re already up to near 2,000, and our goal is to get near 2,200,” Dr. Douglas said.
But the state is moving towards more vaccinations at local neighborhood sites to target even more people in targeted communities.
“I don’t think it means we’ve reached everyone who wants to be vaccinated. It may be the system set up where we have to bring the vaccine to people rather than having them go to vaccine sites,” Mercy Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Robert Roose said.
The state is even partnering with Uber to help residents get to their COVID appointments.
“We will be able to help our residents get to vaccination site. We’ve worked on the transportation, we’ve worked on the neighborhood clinics,” Dr. Roose said.
Springfield’s Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris said the vaccine has shown its effectiveness in older people. Now, the primary focus turns to the 18-35-year-olds.
“We will undertake to try to educate, communicate, and relate to our younger population stressing their health, the health of their families, and for them to consider being vaccinated,” Caulton-Harris said.
She said with this new plan of attack, the ball is in the people's court.
“We’re doing what you asked us to do what we need is for you to participate with us in partnership,” Caulton-Harris said.