Those who endured a long, frustrating, unsuccessful day of trying to register themselves or a loved one for the COVID-19 vaccine may have woken up Thursday to a pleasant surprise.
Just after midnight, 20,000 appointments became available at the state’s two largest vaccination sites: Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park. By 7 a.m., there were still thousands of appointments available on various days in February, but slots filled up fast, and by early afternoon none were left, Governor Charlie Baker said at a press conference.
Baker said appointments will be added every Thursday for the state’s mass vaccination sites, which include Gillette, Fenway, the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, and the DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers. A total of seven such sites will be open within the next 10 days, Baker said.
The number of appointments made available at each location is based on the amount of vaccine the state receives from the federal government, Baker added.
“We anticipate and hope that [the number of doses Massachusetts receives] will continue to grow in the weeks ahead,” he said.
In addition to the 20,000 vaccination appointments that went live at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park on Thursday morning, Baker said 15,000 more appointments had been made available at the Springfield and Danvers sites, which were “being booked.”
The state entered the second phase of its COVID-19 vaccination program Wednesday, extending eligibility to those who are 75 or older. On the first day the demographic was able to schedule an appointment, openings were few and far between, and complaints about the process were rampant. Those in Phase Two cannot be vaccinated until Monday, but can now complete the registration process, despite glitches that defined the day Wednesday.
Baker also addressed the frustrations among seniors who stayed up into the early morning hours to book appointments on the first day slots opened to the age group to no avail. The state plans to open up a call center to help people who are having trouble signing up online, Baker said.
CIC Health, a Cambridge technology company with a focus on COVID-19 testing, manages both sites. The Gillette site opened earlier this month, and the Fenway site is slated to open Feb. 1 — the same day those in Phase Two can start to be inoculated as part of the state’s phased vaccination campaign.
The Fenway site will initially have the capacity to administer up to 500 doses a day, but the state is hoping to ramp up that total each successive week. The Gillette site’s capacity is currently at 1,000 doses per day, but officials hope to extend that capacity to 5,000 shots per day.
At Fenway, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center will oversee the vaccine administration, while at Gillette, Mass General Brigham is in charge.
The Gillette site is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fenway will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Front-line health care workers and people living in long-term care facilities who were eligible for the vaccine in Phase One can still book appointments and receive doses.