FOXBORO (CBS) - In years past, we'd watching the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in January. But now, Gillette Stadium has been converted into a COVID-19 vaccination site.
The stadium will make it so thousands of people can get a vaccine every day.
On Thursday, first responders rolled up their sleeves to get their first dose of Moderna's vaccine as a part of a soft opening at Gillette.
The state's first mass vaccination site officially opens Monday with the capacity to administer 300 shots a day then over time build up to 5,000 vaccinations a day.
Cambridge-based CIC Health is operating the site, Fallon Ambulance is administering the vaccines, and Mass. General Brigham is providing medical oversight.
"I am grateful. I know I still need to get my second vaccine in February, so I will feel more relieved at that point," nurse Amber LaMere said.
Foxboro Police Officer Brendan Fayles was at Gillette to get vaccinated and to set an example. "It's going to be a huge vaccine site, so it'd be nice to get a foot in the door now, get it going. Show people, hey the police are here doing it, so you shouldn't be afraid to come down here."
Gillette Stadium is the first sports venue in the Northeast to become a mass vaccination site. There have also been discussions about using Fenway Park and the Marshfield Fairgrounds.
The state is trying to get creative to ramp up distribution and vaccinate people as quickly as possible. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin is suggesting polling places as another option.
"We already relocated many of these polling places to larger premises last year because of COVID, so now we have the opportunity to say, 'Let's take a larger space.' And often times, there is parking near these locations. We've tested them out, they're handicap accessible," Galvin said.
Dentists say they too can play a part in defending Massachusetts residents against this virus.
"The staffing is already there and all the protocols are set up for injections any complications that might arise if that does occur," Dr. Bill Lane, an oral surgeon.
First responders and health care workers are the first in line for vaccines here at Gillette Stadium, and then it will open to other groups of people as the state moves through its phased distribution plan.
Dr. Eric Goralnick of Mass General Brigham, who was at Gillette on Friday, said he'd like to get the site up and operating seven days a week. "We are looking at other opportunities around the stadium itself and outside the stadium. We've seen in Arizona successfully they've done drive-through vaccinations. We've seen that in Orange County, California. Tthat is a potential model," he said.
for more features.