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'Efficiency And Safety': Boston Marathon Director Helping Coordinate Mass COVID Vaccination Sites

BOSTON (CBS) – Dave McGillivray is used to planning big events. But this time the logistics are a bit different.

McGillivray is the owner of DMSE Sports. Each year his company organizes several dozen road races and other events, including the Boston Marathon.

But throughout the coronavirus pandemic, there have been no races. Organizers are hopefuly the Boston Marathon can be held in the fall.

"We've been putting on events for over 40 years - 1,300 events," he told WBZ-TV. "I always thought this industry was bulletproof. Along came the pandemic and pretty much brought us to our knees. All 35 events we had scheduled for 2020 went over the cliff. We had to start asking ourselves what skillsets do we have that might be transferrable?"

The company began putting on drive-in movies, outdoor graduations, and renting out equipment for things like outdoor dining. But then winter hit, and they were forced to pivot again.

That's when CIC Health, the company in charge of mass COVID vaccination sites at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park, contacted McGillivray. CIC wanted to know if DMSE Sports would be interested in helping run the logistical side of the vaccination sites.

"We thought about it and said that was right up our alley. Producing a marathon and doing something like this has a lot of similarities," said McGillivray. "The key things for us are efficiency and safety."

The Fenway Park site is scheduled to open on Monday, while the Gillette Stadium site began by providing vaccinations for first responders, and now offers appointments for people eligible to sign up when Phase 2 begins.

"It's a constant learning experience. There's no failures, only through this. At the end of the day we're all trying," said McGillivray. "That's the most important thing we all can do is try. Is it perfect? No. is the marathon perfect? No. But we'll continue to do our best to make it as close to perfect as possible."

McGillivray said he has learned through the first weeks at Gillette Stadium things like how long it takes a person to get vaccinated, people's habits of how early or late they show up for appointments, and how many workers and stations are needed.

The key is finding the balance between speed and safety, McGillivray said.

"At the end of the day, what we're doing is we're keeping people healthy, we're saving lives. To me, we're actually bring our industry back," said McGillivray. "For me, I've always said, and I said this right after the 2013 Boston Marathon, the comeback is always stronger than the setback. With a positive attitude, all hands on deck, and everyone collaborating with patience among all of us, we'll get through this together and get through this soon."

Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you're eligible and to book an appointment.

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