If there’s a little bit of a sporting event or road race feel to the organization of the Hynes Convention Center mass vaccination site – which went full-on starting Monday – there’s a pretty good reason for it.
With their road race and sporting event business gutted by COVID-19 restrictions, CIC Health and the state have utilized Boston-based DMSE Sports to help coordinate the flow of folks coming in for vaccinations to the new site.
Matt West, who is also the CEO of DMSE Sports, is now the director of operations for the Hynes site, and said his company is using its expertise from organizing races and events to keeping the vaccination site moving orderly.
“We specialize in road races and running races and anything from the BAA 10K and half-marathon all the way up to the LuLu Lemon San Diego 10K,” West said during the site’s soft opening on Friday, March 19. “Our business has been gutted by this virus and put on hold. So, we’ve pivoted to work with CIC Health to be able to manage these mass vaccination sites from an operations standpoint. It’s a game-changer for us to be able to get people back to running, which is what we specialize in.
“It’s connecting with people, moving people and understanding people,” he continued. “We have all those elements in a road race and we do them here at the Hynes Convention Center when we’re vaccinating people. We’re just trying to make sure people get through in a safe, orderly and comfortable fashion and that’s something you’ll see at the races we put on.”
The Hynes mass vaccination site is a product of the time, with conventions gone and the Red Sox looking to likely have a season this year starting in April, some things had to be shuffled. The mass vaccination site at Fenway Park will close by the end of March, and operations will be increased and moved to the Hynes – which has much more space and no convention business booked any time soon.
For CIC Health, which is based in Cambridge, this will be their fourth mass vaccination site – the others being Fenway, Reggie Lewis Center and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
“This is our fourth mass vaccination site for CCI in the Commonwealth,” said West. “Right now we have about 500 guests a day coming through our doors for our soft launch. Starting on March 22 we’ll be ramping up and we’ll eventually get up to around 5,000 vaccinations per day depending on supply through the state. We’re really excited to open our doors… Guest flow is a huge piece to all this. No one has ever done this before so managing expectations of ourselves and making sure we understand how guest flow will work has been huge.”
As an aside, to make things easier, there will be two hours of free parking for anyone being vaccinated at the Prudential Center garage, courtesy of Boston Properties.
“We have worked with our friends at Boston Properties who own the buildings next door and they have made available two hours of free parking for all guests coming to be vaccinated,” said West. “You can park at the Prudential Center garage and bring your ticket up and we’ll validate it after you’ve been vaccinated.”
David Gibbons, executive director of the Convention Center Authority (MCCA), said the Hynes gives space to ramp up from about 1,000 shots per day at Fenway to go to about 5,000 per day.
“During the darkest days we set up the Boston Hope hospital in the Convention Center and taking care of patients with COVID and the homeless,” he said. “Now we’re at out other building in the Hynes and giving vaccinations and it’s a lighter day. There are better days on the way.”
Gibbons said there were a lot of positives for being at the Hynes.
“The advantage here is the location,” he said. “You’re minutes away from a lot of different Boston neighborhoods.”
The site is currently giving out the Pfizer vaccine, as that is what the state is supplying them with. Each 1.8 milliliter bottle is prepared at a “vaccine bar,” where shots are drawn up and checked for accuracy and ID. Each vial of vaccine lasts six hours from when it is first punctured, said Margot Blume.
“It’s a very time sensitive operation,” she said.
Last Friday, some people had already secured appointments at the Hynes and were getting vaccinated. One of them was John Aubrey, of Revere Beach.
“I’m here because I want to be able to go back out to a bar at some point and I can’t now because they’re all closed,” he said. “This was easy. I booked the appointment, walked in and got a COVID shot. Everyone that can sign up, should. This is simple.”
He said getting the shot does make him feel a little more secure. “It’s a nice feeling,” he said. “I’d like to get the second one before I feel totally secure –